Following the launch of the FW26 last week, the BMW WilliamsF1 Team have spent the past seven days testing the new car at Jerez, with drivers Juan Pablo Montoya, Ralf Schumacher and Marc Gené all undertaking testing duties.
Piloting the FW26 for the first three days of the test, Montoya concentrated on mechanical and aero set up work. Despite some initial teething problems, the new car completed 193 laps over this period, with Montoya securing the best time in two of the sessions.
Ralf Schumacher took over development work on Saturday and spent the initial stages working on set up before successfully completing a full race simulation. In accordance with the new regulations for the forthcoming season, the BMW P84 engine comfortably managed the 800 kilometre distance, a testament to BMW¹s efforts over the winter period.
The team¹s official test driver, Marc Gené, ran the modified FW25A and FW25B over the course of the week. Marc performed extensive tyre testing with Michelin, endurance runs with the new engine as well as supplementary electronics testing.
Aside from the inevitable teething problems, the team has recorded significant mileage over the week, set some impressive times and accrued valuable data. The test may have highlighted the potential of the FW26 but there is still a significant amount of work to be done before it is rolled out on the grid in Melbourne.
Sam Michael (Chief Operations Engineer, WilliamsF1):
"All of the people at WilliamsF1 and BMW should be happy with what the FW26 has achieved at its first test. This is a result of the hard work by all the staff over the Christmas and New Year period, and the effort put in by the test and race teams at the Jerez test. It is a good foundation that we now need to build upon and quickly ramp up the development curve to ensure we are fully competitive come Melbourne."
Mario Theissen (BMW Motorsport Director):
"The team has carried out seven days of intensive and successful testing. The comparison between the FW25 and the FW26, which was running for the first time, was interesting. I would like to compliment our partner WilliamsF1 - the FW26 ran without problems right from the beginning and proved to be fast. Both chassis have been equipped with the BMW P84, our race engine for the 2004 season. Engine wise, we are pleased with the progress of development. The focus has been equally on engine set up and reliability. Due to excellent test conditions - very few red flags and generally good weather - we have been able to record more than 4000 test kilometres. We will now return to Munich with the information we gathered in Jerez to prepare for next week's test in Barcelona."
"During this test I could finally have a proper run in the FW26, unlike at the launch where I only ran for 3 laps. I must say that driving the FW26 is a lot of fun. I am not going to speak in a superlative way about the car, but everything is very, very promising so far. When you drive a new car you can feel if it's good or bad and the test in Jerez showed that the car behaves very well. Even if I am not watching our competitors too much at the moment, I was pleased to set the new track record and was about to improve it, when a technical problem forced me to call it a day and Kimi Raikkonen managed to set an even better time.
We had mixed weather during the test, including some fog which hampered our progress, but all in all I managed to achieve quite considerable mileage. We have several areas to improve upon, of course, but this is what winter tests are for."
Juan Pablo Montoya:
"The effort that everybody in the team at WilliamsF1 and at BMW has put into the new car is fantastic. It has lots of potential, although it is early days. We will now have to wait and see what the others come up with."