Williams hopeful new-look Pirelli tyres will help them amid FW35 improvement drive
Grove team also debuting pitstop changes after Germany dramas
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 23/07/13 3:45pm
The former multiple World Champions have reached the halfway point of 2013 still without a point on the board in the Constructors' Championship after nine rounds - their longest-ever drought from the start of a season - and last week parted company with Technical Director Mike Coughlan, who will be replaced by former Renault and Marussia man Pat Symonds from next month.
However, ahead of the sport's return to racing action in Budapest, Williams have been encouraged by the increased durability of the sport's new-look Pirelli tyres after testing them for the first time last week at Silverstone.
The FW35's race pace has tended to be stronger than its single-lap performance and although chief engineer Xevi Pujolar isn't expecting the new tyres to produce a "revolution" in the established 2013 pecking order, he nonetheless thinks their characteristics should aid Williams' performance.
"For us we find that there are some differences," Pujolar said of the tyres which now feature 2012 structures with 2013 compounds. "It's not a revolution; it doesn't transform the car.
"New-tyre grip is a bit different on the warm-up phase but then in long-run consistency we think they are a bit better. In terms of graining and resistance it's better as well. For the race it will change a bit because you can push, so for us it's a positive change."
Although Williams' form through the first half of the season suggests they're only likely to be fighting for eighth place at best in the standings over the final ten races, the team have insisted they will continue to strive to improve the FW35 despite the spectre of the large regulation overhaul for 2014.
Pujolar says the next four races either side of the summer break will be telling for the Grove outfit's fortunes.
"We're still trying to improve this car and aiming to improve step by step. We hope that we can the next few races we can see we're making progress," he explained.
"We need to wait and see where we are in Budapest and then we get to two tracks in Spa and Monza that are quite different. But then for Singapore it's another track with high downforce and we need to see where we are able to be relative to everyone else."
The root of Williams' race-weekend struggles so far in 2013 have been qualifying, with at least one of the team's two cars dropping out in Q1 in seven of the nine events.
The last weekend in Germany saw both Valtteri Bottas and Pastor Maldonado fail to clear the first knockout hurdle but Pujolar believes even a relatively small Saturday improvement could have big ramifications for their season.
"If we would qualify better, definitely it makes a big difference for us in the race," he said.
"If we could be in the top ten that would be perfect but if we could be just closer to the top ten then it makes a difference on the rhythm and the race you have in the race. Then we need to see with these new tyres how everything moves around in the race pace."
After conducting extensive pitstop practice with their race crew on the final afternoon of the Young Driver Test, Williams will also debut new pitstop procedures in Hungary after cross-threading problems at the Nurburgring.
"We have done some changes on the front and I think that's making now a difference. The wheel nuts on the front are different," Pujolar revealed.