2008 Bahrain GP preview: Williams

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Kazuki Nakajima, Sebastian Vettel, 2008, Sepang, 470150

One double points finish, one nightmare race. Just how quick are Williams?

The Bahrain Grand Prix should give us some answers.

Nico Rosberg made his F1 debut at Bahrain two years ago and, after a blunder at the first corner, moved smartly through the field to finish an excellent seventh, claiming fastest lap on the way.

It’s not the first time he’s shined at the desert track – in 2005 back-to-back victories in the GP2 season finale saw him snatch the championship from Heikki Kovalainen.

He should be in the hunt for a strong points finish this weekend but the team’s surprisingly poor performance at Sepang makes it hard to judge just how quick they will be:

AUS Q AUS R MAL Q MAL R
Nico Rosberg 7 3 16 14
Kazuki Nakajima 13 6 22* 17

*penalty

In pre-season testing Williams looked to be in the hunt with BMW and Red Bull. Nico Rosberg had a close race with Nick Heidfeld in Melbourne and lost what would have been second place when the pair swapped places during their pit stops.

It’s hard to tell at this stage whether the team’s problems at Sepang were just a one-off or the signs of a weakness in the FW30 that will continue to dog them. Publicly the team said it was struggling to get grip on the resurfaced Sepang circuit – but this was not a complaint many other teams registered.

Having said that Rosberg’s race would have been better but for his collision with Timo Glock on the first lap.

Tomorrow’s practice session will give us the first clue whether Sepang was a blip in performance for the team or the beginning of a downward trend. How do you think Williams will fare in Bahrain?