Williams 'should have delivered more' than just sixth place for Nico Rosberg in the Monaco Grand Prix last weekend, Sam Michael has contended – despite the result equalling the Grove-based outfit's highest finish of the year to-date.
Having found his qualifying efforts stymied by the Brawn GP of Rubens Barrichello inadvertently in his way on his last 'hot' lap, Rosberg was forced to begin the race around the demanding, tortuous streets of the glamorous Principality from sixth position, when both he and the team had reckoned a second row slot was on the cards with the fuel load the young German had on-board. In FP2 on Thursday afternoon, he had – for the ninth time this season – been fastest of all.
After trying and failing to get past Felipe Massa at the start, the 23-year-old subsequently opportunistically leapt ahead of the scarlet machine when the Brazilian backed off too much in his efforts to let Sebastian Vettel re-pass him, having illegally overtaken the Red Bull in running off the track at the seafront chicane on lap seven.
The first driver to break clear of the 'Vettel train' just a lap later still, Rosberg looked to be on a charge, instantly proving himself as the quickest man on the circuit and briefly taking the lead during the opening round of pit-stops, but after dropping back behind Massa, Mark Webber and Heikki Kovalainen following his own first pit visit, a long middle stint on a heavy fuel load prevented the inaugural GP2 Series Champion from regaining his early momentum – and sixth at the chequered flag was the best he could ultimately do.
“Williams have traditionally been strong at Monaco and this year was no exception,” reflected the former multiple world championship-winning concern's technical director Michael, “with Nico setting competitive qualifying times when it mattered. I was satisfied with the car's pace and three points is always welcome, but Formula 1 is all about expectation – and we should have delivered more than that with the pace that the FW31 had around Monaco.
“Nico was on a compromised strategy; he had too little fuel on-board for the first stint because of the traffic he had in the top ten shoot-out in qualifying. When he started his last run in Q3 he had a gap of 4.5 seconds between himself and Rubens Barrichello. Unfortunately, Rubens was doing a slow/fast lap sequence so Nico caught him halfway around the lap, just before Tabac corner. We should have started the lap with a larger gap in the traffic.
“The issue on the super-soft compound [in the race] was actually severe graining, not wear rate. Williams did not have any issue with this during the race, unlike a couple of teams, but that was purely because we planned a very short final stint on the super-soft after we saw severe graining in practice. As a result, we never carried a lot of fuel with that tyre and the drivers were asked to take it easy on the super-soft.”
Courtesy of the three points notched up in Monte Carlo, Williams has leapfrogged BMW-Sauber into seventh in the constructors' title standings – albeit, again, still some way lower than expectations.