Williams set sights on first test

Williams are confident their 2012 challenger will be ready for first pre-season test at Jerez at the start of February.

The veteran takes his car out for a spin.

The Grove squad are coming off the worst season their history after they picked up just five points and finished ninth in the 2011 constructors' championship.

The team, though, are determined to bounce back next campaign and they have made various personnel changes with the most noteworthy being Mike Coughlan coming in as technical director.

Coughlan says development on their new car is going well and they are optimistic it will be ready for the first test at the Jerez circuit from February 7, while an upgraded version will be on display at the final test at the Circuit de Catalunya from March 1.

"As we stand at the moment our gearbox and engine installation programme has finished and been tested on the dyno, and will run twice more before Christmas to have covered in excess of 6,000km. All of the rear suspension has been completed so we'll also run that as well," he told Williams' iGNITION magazine.

"The first chassis is completed with a second one not far behind, and we'll shortly start our FIA crash test programme, and all of those tests have been passed already in private testing.

"We now have a fully-defined car that will be used for system checks, it has a reasonable improvement in downforce and will carry all of the systems that will enable us to go to the first test and be launched. Our aim is then to have an upgraded car for the final pre-season test.

"The car is slated to be delivered to the race shop in mid-January and we'll be ready to go to the first test in early February.

"The aim is that by the end of January, all the parts that can possibly have been verified have been, and the track testing is purely a verification of that work.

"There should be enough mileage on the major parts so that if the car stops on track with a fundamental problem, it comes as a surprise. Other than that the testing will focus on improving reliability and the overall aerodynamic performance of the car."

As for their 2011 troubles, Coughlan admits the team's gambles didn't pay off.

"I don't think it's just aerodynamic, I think we made some decisions where effectively we gambled on something which would have cost us performance from a vehicle dynamics point of view, but which would have been outweighed by the aerodynamic gain," he said.

"That obviously didn't pay off - had it done so we would have looked much better this season. You've also got to take into account that the blown floor became more and more prevalent.

"We spent a lot of development time in the wind tunnel looking at how much time a blown floor might have gained us, but ultimately we couldn't blow the floor, so we could say in hindsight that time would have been better spent working on an un-blown floor.

"It's a difficult one because you don't know at the outset what the gains will be, and a lot of time is spent getting to the answer, at which point it might turn out not to have been worth the effort."

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