Williams targeting a podium in BahrainLaurence Edmondson April 1, 2014 « Wolff expects Mercedes driver rivalry to boil over at some point | F14 T problems 'everywhere' - Domenicali »
Williams believes it can score a podium at this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix despite two disappointing results at the first two races.
The team looked very competitive in winter testing in Bahrain, but after wet qualifying sessions and troubled races at the opening two grands prix it has failed to live up to its pre-season promise. However, test and support engineer Rod Nelson is confident that will change this weekend as the team returns to the Middle East.
Asked if a podium was possible, Nelson said: "Absolutely. That's definitely our target."
He is confident the Sakhir circuit will suit the Williams better.
"I think it's going to be circuit dependent [this year]. I'm quite optimistic for Bahrain, we obviously did a lot of running there and we have a very good idea of where we are in the pecking order in Bahrain, although Red Bull, for example, are looking a lot stronger than they were then. This weekend [in Malaysia] I would say we had the legs on McLaren and Ferrari are looking stronger than they have been through winter testing as well. If qualifying in Malaysia had been dry we probably would have been third or fourth."
The FW36 has good straight-line speed and according to the FIA's fuel usage figures is one of the most frugal. Nelson attributes that to the set-up choices the team made over the course of the weekend.
"It's not down to a lack of downforce, it's a lack of drag. You've got to look at the weekend holistically and you've got to look at where you want to put your car. You've got to look at whether you want to be quick in quali on a certain type of track or do you want to be quick in the race at another type of track. You have to look at the whole year and the circuits we go to and the level of drag we are prepared to take.
"Part of that equation is the amount of fuel you want to carry. If you take the rear wing off the car then you'll use three quarters of the amount of fuel, but it's about finding a balance and maybe we found that balance slightly differently to some other teams. Sometimes it benefits us and other times it detracts."
Laurence Edmondson is deputy editor of ESPNF1