New Williams chief operations engineer Mark Gillan says he is hopeful that the Grove-based outfit will be able to fight for just a fourth top ten finish of the 2011 F1 season this weekend in Japan.
So far this year, a brace of ninth place finishes for Rubens Barrichello has been the best the team has managed, with Pastor Maldonado taking a single tenth place finish in the races run to date.
However, heading to Suzuka this weekend, the team will aim to make the most of improvements being made to the FW33 following the annual night race in Singapore with Gillan revealing that the team had reached a better level of understanding over some of the issues to have plagued it thus far in 2011.
“Suzuka is a classic track with its trademark figure-of-eight layout that proves a stern technical test for the drivers,” he said. “The circuit layout leads to very high average cornering speeds and energy input into the tyres, but it is light on brakes.
“Our levels of understanding regarding the driveability issues of the FW33 have increased significantly since Singapore and we are currently working hard to optimise the set-up and improve the car going into the Japanese GP. We obviously need to ensure that the car operates in the optimal aerodynamic window - this is fundamental to maximising our performance and we aim to be fighting for a points finish with both cars.”
Both Barrichello and Maldonado go into the weekend looking for upturn in fortunes – the latter in what will be his debut on Japanese soil.
“It will be a good experience for me as I think it is one of the most important circuits of the season,” the Venezuelan said. “It is a historical track that hasn't changed much over the years, so it will be really exciting to drive on. There is a fantastic combination of corners and the first sector looks quite difficult. I think it will become one of my favourite tracks as it is quite quick and I like tracks like that. I've never been to Japan before so I'm looking forward to getting to know the country. We need to push hard this weekend to try and improve on our last result.”