Despite breaking his F1 points duck with a solitary marker for tenth place in this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang, top flight Nico Hülkenberg was left bemoaning Williams' lack of pace that has left the former world champions unable to do much but pick up the scraps that fall from the table.
Hülkenberg and ultra-experienced team-mate Rubens Barrichello lined up respectively fifth and seventh on the starting grid in Kuala Lumpur, but even then the reigning GP2 Series Champion hinted that the result somewhat flattered Williams' true level of competitiveness [see separate story – click here
]. Come race day, he would be proved right.
Wirth his cause not aided by losing track position at the start and then having to pit early for a new steering wheel, as faster rivals made their way through the field, Hülkenberg was relegated to duelling over the final points-paying positions with Scuderia Toro Rosso rival Jaime Alguersuari, who ultimately got the better of him in the race's closing stages. That left the 22-year-old a frustrated tenth at the chequered flag.
“We picked up a point today, maybe because our car was more reliable, but that's racing,” he mused afterwards. “It was a tough race because we just don't have the pace at the moment. I wish we could do better, but we have some work to do to catch up.”
Those sentiments were broadly corroborated by Barrichello, who fell down to plum last when the starting lights went out when his Cosworth-powered FW32 inexplicably stalled. The Brazilian veteran drove well after that to recover to twelfth place – but he too was left to rue Williams' underwhelming form.
“I don't know what happened at the start,” confessed the 37-year-old Paulista, the most experienced competitor in F1 history. “I'll go through that with the team. From there I went to the back of the field. We tried a different strategy to get us back up, but our car was just not competitive. We lost a nice opportunity today.”
“We had a difficult race this afternoon from which we've come away with one point,” summarised the Grove-based outfit's technical director Sam Michael. “Both drivers struggled with the start – Rubens didn't get enough drive and Nico had excessive wheelspin.
“We chose to pit Rubens early and put him on the harder tyre, as he was being held up in traffic. Nico also had to pit early as we had an electrical problem on his steering wheel which was preventing us from changing the engine mixture. Our focus remains on improving our pace and starts.”