F1 veteran Rubens Barrichello has conceded that although outgoing Williams technical director Sam Michael is 'overloaded' and he will be sad to see him go, change is needed at the Grove-based outfit and internal communication needs to be significantly improved.
It was all upheaval at Williams last week, when – following fevered speculation – it was confirmed that Michael will depart the team come season's end, in company with chief aerodynamicist Jon Tomlinson as controversial 'Spygate' protagonist Mike Coughlan prepares to come on-board as chief engineer [see separate story – click here
The radical overhaul has been engineered by Williams chairman Adam Parr in the wake of the former multiple F1 World Champions' worst start to a campaign in their 34-year history in 2011 – with no points from the opening four grands prix now and not so much as a single top ten appearance in qualifying as wind tunnel problems have left the Cosworth-powered FW33 languishing a long way down the pecking order, despite its innovative and aggressive design approach.
Barrichello first worked with Michael at Jordan Grand Prix a decade-and-a-half ago before the pair were reunited at Williams last year, and the Brazilian – the most experienced competitor in F1 history – has a great deal of respect for the softly-spoken Australian.
Admitting that he would rather he had not resigned, the Paulista nonetheless stresses that the technical structure is
in desperate need of a shake-up and a different direction in order to begin to turn around Williams' ailing fortunes, given that many team members have been overstretched by being expected to carry out multiple duties and as such are unable to perform to the maximum of their potential.
Aside from espousing the requirement for more clearly-defined roles throughout the team, Barrichello reveals that he would also have appreciated being consulted on more of the changes to have had the opportunity to provide his own input and views.
“I was sorry to see the announcement of Sam,” reflected the eleven-time grand prix-winner, speaking to ITV-F1
. “I have been working with him since the Jordan days and I was happy to reunite with him at Williams, [but] he's doing five or six jobs. He's overloaded, and at the end of the day it's too much for a single human being and he ends up doing half of his capability on his own job because he is doing other things.
“There are too many people doing too many jobs. A classic example would be that I drive the car and get out and check the tyre pressures – that wouldn't work, and there are too many people doing that at Williams right now. There are too many [roles for one person].
“I don't have much to do [with the decisions]. They asked me about Sam a lot, and to be honest, I'm sad to see him go. In my opinion, with a very nice role he could, with other people, work very nicely in the team – but that's not for me to decide. We're about the same age, we get on well and he works very much in a way that I like; he just needs to be put back working properly on the things he likes to work on.
“That I was consulted [on], the rest I got to know from some of the press – which I would have liked to get consulted [on] as well. That's something that needs change. Williams need to work as a family, not too much of trying to keep it for themselves and then going to the press. We need to work a little bit more on how we approach things [internally].
“In my opinion, we need to define a little bit better what is what, and what people do what, because right now the [wind] tunnel is bringing great things on paper and we are having evolutions every day like a normal team...but not all the time [do they] translate to the racetrack. When you put it on the car, it is not all the time better, or it's just a little bit [better] or is not what the tunnel [is] saying.
“That's why the progression of the team during the year is sometimes bad and sometimes not. That I've been telling the team lots, because with all the teams I've [driven for] and the ones that have done really well, you only put on the car what you think is really going to make it work because otherwise it makes confusion. Last year, although we made progress, there was some stuff that did make confusion.
“Unfortunately, there are too many changes and it might take some time before the car is really, really good, but we need the changes because it doesn't matter if you make a driveshaft on this angle, and the gearbox this amount and it's the most aggressive thing, if the car is not the way it should be, the rest [doesn't matter]. It is time for a change, and I'm all up for it.”