Rubens Barrichello – the most experienced driver in F1 history – has urged his employer Williams to focus upon resolving the 'fundamental problem' with its underperforming FW33 rather than 'keep just changing the top'...or else risk the 2011 campaign turning into a total write-off.
To-date this season, Williams has tallied a scant four points from just two ninth-place finishes, leaving it a lowly ninth in the constructors' standings and worst-positioned of any of the established teams – a full 18 markers adrift of Scuderia Toro Rosso in eighth, and the multiple world champions' worst performance in recent memory.
To put Williams' abject form into perspective a little, last year, the Grove-based outfit wound up ahead of not only Toro Rosso, but also Force India F1 and Sauber, and at the same stage of proceedings, had tallied 31 points.
There have been only three top ten qualifying efforts from the opening eleven races of 2011 – all courtesy of Barrichello's rookie team-mate Pastor Maldonado, and none of which have been converted into points, in large part due to the FW33's poor starts. The Cosworth-powered challenger is also notably hard on its rear tyres – a particular disadvantage in the new Pirelli era – and the Brazilian veteran has offered himself as a guinea pig for evaluating developments during practice sessions, although there has yet to be any discernible progress.
Last year, Barrichello notched up 17 points from the final seven races following the summer break, and if Williams is to achieve its stated objective of a top six finish in the constructors' championship – it presently trails that target by 31 points – the 39-year-old concedes that the root cause of the FW33's issues needs to be addressed, and stresses that full use must be made of having two technical directors inside the team in the shape of new arrival Mike Coughlan and the departing Sam Michael.
“We have Mike Coughlan working on next year, and Sam is being paid already so we might as well use him to do something for this year,” he told James Allen on F1
. “In that respect, we are quite lucky. We just need to improve the damn car!
“If we don't improve the fundamental problem, if we keep on testing and experimenting then we are going to score points but not in [the higher] range – unless we go to a race where there are 15 cars off and we finish on the podium.
“The car has its problems. If we don't go down under and cure the whole situation to start growing again and we keep just changing the top, then it's just like masking. It's not a lack of effort that Williams isn't bringing new things; they are bringing loads of new things, but they are not working. Last year, some of them did work and then our year improved so much. Right now, we are trying new stuff and not feeling that it's getting there.”