Despite coming away from Valencia with just a single point, Williams
remains confident that it can be a contender for more throughout the rest of the 2012 F1 campaign.
The Grove-based team could have finished the Grand Prix of Europe on the podium, had it not been for a late-race collision between Pastor Maldonado
and Lewis Hamilton
when the McLaren
driver was struggling with badly-worn tyres, and had to make do with tenth place from Bruno Senna after his Venezuelan team-mate was penalised out of the same position.
While the outcome of a strong weekend for Maldonado, who qualified third on merit, was disappointing chief operations engineer Mark Gillan is happy that the Renault-powered FW34 had again showed its potential on another different circuit. Maldonado has already won a race this season, holding off Fernando Alonso
and Kimi Raikkonen
in Barcelona, with Williams
bouncing back from its 'worst ever season' by racking up 45 points over the opening eight races.
"We are obviously disappointed not to have capitalised on the pace shown throughout the weekend, but we have learnt a great deal [from] Valencia, especially relating to tyre management," he noted, denying that there were special aspects of the street circuit that favoured the FW34, "The car seems well suited to most circuits. We have a good base package and with the excellent feedback that our drivers are giving us we are able to selectively develop the car to improve any deficiencies, whilst also working on our strengths."
After failing to match his team-mate on Saturday afternoon, Senna opted to try and complete the race on a single tyre stop, managing his rubber well despite having a longer stop for a new front wing following a collision with Kamui Kobayashi, and then being hit with a drive-thru' penalty.
"Our qualifying pace has improved and Pastor's pole position in Spain - and subsequent third position in qualifying in Valencia - is testament to that fact," Gillan reflected, "The tyres are sensitive to track temperature, so tyre management is of first order importance. In conjunction with his engineers, Bruno did a very good job in managing the tyres though the race."
The biggest frustration, of course, was seeing a potential podium, or fourth place at worse, disappearing following the penultimate lap shenanigans between Maldonado and Hamilton, but Gillan insists that the team is ready to move on and concentrate on being a factor at its home race in two weekends' time.
"Obviously the team were disappointed to see one of our cars sustain damage so close to the end of the race when we were showing good pace, but we respect the decision taken by the stewards," he said, acknowledging Maldonado's penalty, "Both Pastor and the team have moved on and the focus is now on achieving a good result at Silverstone.
"As per all races, the whole team are pushing hard to maximise our performance and deliver a good result, which of course would be extra special given that it is our home grand prix."