I’m intrigued by the comments coming out of Williams over the last 24 hours, regarding Nico Rosberg.
First at the top of yesterday’s press release after the race they said, “Inconsistency compromised a strong strategy and left Nico in P8 and with one point at race end.”
Then lower down, Patrick Head says, “Nico’s pace in the first stint was initially good, but we then struggled to maintain consistency, so we will have to investigate that.”
Today comes a de-brief document from the team, in which technical director Sam Michael says
“Nico’s lap times were somewhat inconsistent, yes, and we are now looking carefully through all of the data and bodywork parts to determine what caused that.”
Williams’ frustration is evident; they lie 8th in the constructors championship with a scant 4.5 points, despite being one of the teams who started the season with the advantage of a double diffuser.
Sam Michael goes on to say, “Even if we think we have a faster car than how we currently stand in that table, the Constructors’ order is what the overall performance of our team is measured by. ”
This is all finessed with layers of pr gloss, but reading between the lines I think Williams are a bit fed up with Rosberg’s performance this year.
In his defence, as far as the inconsistency is concerned, I heard last night before I left the track that Rosberg had suffered some problem with the floor of the car, which may have affected him in certain corners around the Barcelona track and resulted in him struggling to turn in consistent times. I look forward to the findings of their current investigations into the car.
But the fact is that Rosberg hasn’t really been pulling up trees this year. I’ve heard it suggested that if someone like Fernando Alonso were in that car he would have scored podiums with it, but who’s to know?
Let’s take a look though at Nico’s race and see what the team is referring to.
Nico starts the race on Sunday from 9th on the grid, but took advantage of the chaos at the first corner to move up to 7th. His lap times do not come down like the other front running drivers, a lap of 1m 24.2 is followed by a 1m25.0. A few laps later a 1m 24.1 is followed by a 1m 25.9. No traffic is involved.
He pits on lap 25 and the second stint is more consistent, working his way down through the 1m24s to the 1m23s. There is often three or four tenths of disparity between laps, however. He has lost time and later in the race Nick Heidfeld in the BMW gets in front of him, at the second pit stops.
The BMW is at least 2/10ths slower than the Williams, so this is an irritant. In Bahrain it will have irritated the team that Rosberg, with a significant package of upgrades, was only two tenths faster than Nakajima in qualifying. The impression is of a driver who is struggling to make things happen in his fourth season in F1.
I remember a few years ago, when one of the drivers wasn’t pulling his weight to the extent Patrick expected he said, “We are deep in Boutsen territory,” referring to Thierry Boutsen, who had plenty of days when he wouldn’t be able to perform.
I’m not saying for a second that they are in ‘Boutsen territory’ now, but Rosberg is certainly under scrutiny there. That message is coming through loud and clear.