Williams is confident that it is 'inching closer to the top ten' and that 'further upgrades' will allow the former multiple F1 World Champions to produce a solid performance around the streets of Valencia this weekend – as Rubens Barrichello returns to a happy hunting-ground.
The most experienced driver in the sport's long history notched up his tenth victory in the top flight in the European Grand Prix last August, and after both he and young rookie team-mate Nico Hülkenberg endured a frustrating time of things in Canada – with the former getting tangled up on the opening lap and the latter requiring a new front wing following a collision and subsequently picking up a drive-through penalty for pit-lane speeding, disguising their true pace and leaving them just 13th and 14th at the chequered flag – the veteran Brazilian is eager to make amends under the Spanish sun.
“I have great memories of Valencia,” enthused 'Rubinho'. “I won the race there last year – it was my tenth win, so it was great fun. It was also significant because it really pulled me back into contention for the championship. Cosworth is doing well to improve its consistency, and the team are bringing some more upgrades to Spain so I'm looking forward to seeing where their combined efforts put us. The challenge in Valencia is to get into Q3 and score some points.”
“Valencia is a great track,” added Hülkenberg. “I really like it. I know it well from racing there in GP2 last year, and I'm very much looking forward to driving it in the FW32 because it's a circuit I feel quite comfortable on. Like Monaco and Montreal, there are walls everywhere, but the track's a bit wider and I like the challenge.
“We'll have more new parts for this race, but we'll have to wait and see what improvements they bring to the car. We are inching a bit closer to the top ten, as we showed in qualifying in Montreal, but we have to continue pushing and gain more tenths to get into the top ten consistently.”
Whilst the next major update to the FW32 will not be seen until the Grove-based outfit's home outing in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone next month, technical director Sam Michael confirmed that the team's F-duct – originally debuted in Shanghai but not run since Barcelona – and Montreal-introduced new rear wing will both make another appearance in Valencia.
“We ran a couple of programmes in the wind tunnel to get the most efficient iteration of the rear wing,” revealed the softly-spoken Aussie. “To be honest, the rear wing is the main difference for low-drag tracks now, with the top bodywork being so clean due to the rules. For Valencia, we will be taking the blown rear wing (F-duct) with us to test again.
“Valencia has been a welcome addition to the calendar since it joined the schedule in 2008. The 5.4km lap is made up of 25 corners, which should conspire to make a tight-and-twisty track, but instead the drivers actually get into quite a good rhythm and speeds tend to average out around the lap at around 200km/h.
“As a street circuit, the teams do face certain challenges over the weekend. The track provides little grip at the outset, the multitude of corners place some considerable stress on the tyres and the coastal location can whip up some sea breezes which can affect the balance of the car.
“As overtaking opportunities are also limited around Valencia, a good grid position is important. We've secured points at each of the two races in Valencia, and that is our aim again this time round. We will have further upgrades on the FW32, including the development blown rear wing – and then our next major upgrade is planned for release at the British Grand Prix.”