Singapore GP post race: Williams

Valtteri Bottas finished the Singapore Grand Prix in fifth place, while team mate Felipe Massa was forced to retire. Bottas moved ahead of Kvyat during the final round of pitstops and comfortably held fifth position to the finish. Massa had to make an extra pit stop due to a slow puncture following contact from Hulkenberg’s Force India. He later retired with a gearbox problem.

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering: “It was an excellent race for Valtteri today. He showed great pace and the gap from qualifying disappeared, so we were fighting with Kvyat and Rosberg throughout the race. We made good strategic calls, when Kvyat pitted we stayed out knowing a safety car could come at any time, and we got ahead of him. Felipe getting tangled up with Hulkenberg, who subsequently received a penalty, was unfortunate and put us on the back foot with that car. His retirement was a gearbox problem, the car was jumping out of gear so we need to investigate that. I’m happy with the day but it’s tinged with disappointment because we’ve lost some points with Felipe’s car.”

Valtteri Bottas: “It was a good race for me. The start was good, the pace was a little bit better than we expected. I could put a bit of pressure on the guys in front and undercut some people. The pit crew did an amazing job today under pressure. We did what we had to, got our heads down and took our opportunities. This was the maximum result today so I’m pleased.”

Felipe Massa: “It was a very unlucky race for me. My problems started with the collision I had with Hulkenberg after my first stop. I was braking for the corner and he turned his car in on mine, leaving me with nowhere to go, so we hit. This caused a slow puncture on my front-right tyre and the extra pitstop put me back many positions. I then had a gearbox problem. I was changing gears from 2nd to 3rd and was getting neutral. It seemed to resolve itself but it happened again and I had to retire the car. It was one of those races where things just weren’t going my way. We need to concentrate on recovering some of our lost points at the next race.”

Monza post race: Williams

Felipe Massa claimed his second podium of the season in front of a cheering Italian crowd in Monza. Valtteri Bottas finished in fourth, pushing his teammate hard in the final laps. After good starts for both cars they ran third and fourth until Rosberg’s quicker pitstop allowed him to jump ahead of both cars after the one and only round of stops. Both drivers capitalised on Rosberg stopping on track in the late stages of the race to claim a valuable 27 points for the team.

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering: “It was a good race for the team. The mandate from the start of the weekend was that we had to have a clean weekend. If there were 15 points on the table, we had to come away with 15 points. The great news is that we’ve taken 27 points and a podium. We’ve moved away from the people behind us in fourth by a good amount, which was the absolute priority. We’ve kept pace with Ferrari, so in championship terms it’s been a good weekend for us. We came out of what was not a particularly good race in Belgium, from both a performance and operational point of view, and we’ve reacted really well. The team were absolutely spot on all weekend which is a great show of the strength and depth we have at Williams now.”

Felipe Massa: “It’s really emotional to have been on the podium. It was a difficult but fantastic race. I didn’t have the best start but I was still able to pass cars so it was good enough. I worked hard to open the gap to Valtteri, but when I pitted early it gave him the advantage on tyres at the end of the race. It was hard to keep him behind as he really wanted it, but I just about managed it. I am delighted for myself and the team, we got a lot of valuable points. It’s special to be up on the podium at Monza again, and I really thank the team for their effort today.”

Valtteri Bottas: “It was a good result for the team today, good points which is important. My pit stop lost me too much time which was crucial for the second part of the race. I managed to get extremely close in the end but it was too late. As I saved my tyres and brakes I was able to attack in the final laps but we had system issues on the last lap, so we need to investigate what happened because I also lost an opportunity there. It’s a shame for me that I couldn’t be on the podium but it’s still good points for us.”

Belgian GP preview: Williams

Motor Racing - Formula One World Championship - Belgian Grand Prix - Practice Day - Spa Francorchamps, Belgium

 

The Spa-Francorchamps circuit is one of Formula One’s most iconic and revered. The extreme climb through Eau Rouge with clouds of spray hanging between the trees of the Ardennes forest is one of the sport’s most memorable sights.

Spa is one of the precious few circuits to retain the magic of its original form through a modernised and shortened layout, thanks to sweeping elevations around legendary sections of road at Eau Rouge, Pouhon and Blanchimont.

The 7km lap is perhaps the most treasured of the season for the drivers.

Rob Smedley (you should know who he is by now):
“Returning from the summer break we are all refreshed and absolutely raring to go; the team spirit and motivation at Williams is tangible as we look forward to challenging for podium positions in the second part of the year. Spa should be a circuit that suits the FW37 and we therefore have to capitalise on this. The long straights twinned with the long sweeping corners in sector 2 are definitely characteristics where we’ve seen this year’s car perform really well. The weather is an important factor in Spa and we therefore have to be ready for all circumstances. We have been doing a lot of homework in this area recently and the team has made excellent inroads. Belgium is such a fantastic Grand Prix for the teams and the fans alike. It encapsulates the purity of Formula One very well, which is simply about the best cars in the world racing around the best circuits, and we are lucky to visit here each year.”

Valtteri Bottas:
“Spa is one of my favourite circuits. The feeling of Eau Rouge in a Formula One car is hard to explain and certainly unique, it’s just incredible. The layout is normally strongly suited to the characteristics of our car as well, so I head to this weekend looking for a strong result. I was on the podium last year, so we are looking to achieve a similar result. The weather always plays a part throughout the weekend so we have to be alert as it can change so fast.”

Felipe Massa:
“Spa is the most enjoyable circuit for many of the drivers and it’s definitely my favourite. It’s always good to have a strong result at the circuits you enjoy driving. The weather can sometimes surprise us so we will need to be on the ball when it comes to strategic decision making. The layout suits the strengths of our car so we’re looking to start the second half of the season in a strong position.”

Hungarian GP post race: Williams

Felipe Massa finished 12th and Valtteri Bottas 13th after a chaotic Hungarian Grand Prix. Bottas made a great start running in fourth after the first lap whilst Massa struggled for pace in tenth. Massa was given a five-second penalty for being out of position on the grid and struggled after his first stop on the medium tyre. Bottas had a solid race but was hit from behind after the safety car restart resulting in a right-rear puncture.

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering: “We weren’t where we expected to be today following the pace we had on Friday. It was an eventful race all round. Valtteri was unfortunately hit from behind through no fault of his own picking up a puncture, and without that could have been on the podium. Felipe’s tyres only worked in the final stint, and we need to investigate why that was as it made for a tough race for him. Results like this make us stronger as a group and we can go away and analyse what went wrong. Williams has been on a constant learning curve over the last 18 months and you have to take days like this with that. We now head into the next few races which will play to our strengths and we’ll aim to recuperate the points we lost today.

Felipe Massa: “That was a really challenging day for us. I got a penalty early on and then the medium tyre in traffic didn’t work well for me at all. It was uphill from there on. As a team we walked away with no points, which is a blow for the Championship, but something we now have to make up for.”

Valtteri Bottas: “It was a disappointing day to score no points. At the start of the race we were running in line with the pace of the car. There were plenty of opportunities to score well, but I suffered a puncture at the wrong time and from then on it was a struggle. It is important we move forward from this, have a good rest and arrive fresh and ready for Spa.”

Canada post race: Williams

Valtteri Bottas finished third and Felipe Massa sixth in today’s Canadian Grand Prix. Bottas capitalised on a mistake by Räikkönen to move into third after his first and only pitstop, subsequently showing strong pace to keep clear of the Ferrari to secure the team’s first podium of the season.

Starting out of position in P15 after problems in qualifying, Massa drove a brilliant race to pick his way through the field and secure valuable points for the team. The team has extended its hold on third position in the Constructors’ Championship with a total of 108 points for the season so far.

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering: “The message I gave to the team this morning was that we have to go into this race believing in ourselves and be on the top of our game. If we did that I believed we could get on the podium with Valtteri and get a lot of points with Felipe, and that’s exactly what we’ve done. The two drivers were absolutely fantastic all race. The team has worked well as a unit and the strategies were spot on. The rewards are there when you get it right and we need to use this as a good boost to keep moving forwards. We now have races ahead of us where we should be aiming for more podiums.”

Valtteri Bottas: “We really maximised everything today and I’m really happy for us as a team. We had an opportunity to get third and we took it. We had the chance to change the strategy in the middle of the race and go for one stop instead of two. We knew it could be a risk but the team knew what to do and we were right. There was not much threat from behind so we could take a bit of a risk, and I’m really proud that we did. We were racing hard today and we earned the podium. It’s great to be back in the top three and we know there are better Grands Prix to come because of the updates we are bringing so I can’t wait for the next few races.”

Felipe Massa: “After a challenging qualifying for me yesterday I’m happy with how the race has gone and I’ve picked up some good points. Starting P15 was always going to lead to a busy race and there was a lot of great overtaking and the car had good consistent pace. We managed to have a one stop race and still keep the pace with the option tyre at the end which was fantastic. With the car I had today I could have been fighting for podiums, but all in all this has been a very positive weekend for the team and we should be very competitive in the next few races, especially with some upgrades planned for the car.”

Melbourne post race: Williams

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Williams’ Felipe Massa finished fourth in today’s Australian Grand Prix. Starting in third and opting for a one-stop strategy, Massa lost a place to the Ferrari of Vettel after being jumped at the first pitstop, but after that showed consistent pace to bring the car home with 12 points to start the 2015 season. Valtteri Bottas was unable to race following a lower back injury sustained during qualifying. Following an evaluation by the FIA’s medical team and following a series of tests the FIA Medical Delegate deemed him unfit to take part in today’s race.

Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering: “It’s always difficult to compete with only 50 per cent of your armoury with Valtteri having to miss the race, so today was about damage limitation in the Constructors’ Championship and we have managed to come away only a few points behind Ferrari which is a decent result. The team worked very well as a unit all weekend; the pitstop was good and so was the work on the pitwall. We made a decision to pit early because Vettel was a bit quicker behind us, but unfortunately this didn’t pay off for us. We are in a really competitive battle with the teams around us so this race is a marker for the rest of the season. We need to continue improving the car and getting maximum performance from what is a strong package.”

Felipe Massa: “The aim of today was to start the season with a solid points haul and demonstrate that we have a competitive car. We have managed to achieve much of what we wanted so this has been a positive start. The only disappointing part of the race was that I was jumped at the first pitstop by Vettel after losing a second and a half behind Ricciardo on my out-lap which was enough to lose the position. I have faith in the team and the car and we head to Malaysia knowing we are very much in the fight.”

Valtteri Bottas: “I have done a lot of work since the issue with my back came in qualifying to get myself ready, starting treatment immediately, so the news that I couldn’t race today was obviously disappointing but I respect the decision. I now have two weeks until the next race to receive further treatment to ensure I will be back to full fitness and even stronger in Malaysia. I’m very eager to get back in the car and race because the FW37 is looking competitive and I’m confident we can fight for podiums.”

 

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Chinese GP – Williams

Valtteri Bottas finished seventh and Felipe Massa 15th in the Chinese Grand Prix.

Valterri Bottas

Valterri Bottas

Felipe had a great start but then made contact with a defending Fernando Alonso, whilst Valtteri was hit by Nico Rosberg who was braking hard in response to the action ahead. Felipe recovered to sixth with Valtteri in eighth before the first round of pitstops but a problem in Felipe’s first pitstop then dropped him to the back of the field. Valtteri meanwhile chased the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg eventually finishing just half a second behind, as Felipe fought hard to gain positions back to 15th.

Rob Smedley, Head of Vehicle Performance:

“It’s bittersweet really as the car was quick. We had a good strategy and the team worked well together. It’s a real shame for Felipe and the whole team about the pitstop and it is something that we need to investigate to ensure it doesn’t happen again, as it cost us points today. To have one car in the top ten shows that we have the pace and that gives us continued optimism, so we will take the positives forward to Spain.”

Rob Smedley

Rob Smedley

Valtteri Bottas:

“It was a good race for me despite some hard contact at the start which cost me a few positions. I also had to drive the whole race without telemetry which isn’t the easiest thing to do. We made progress over the whole weekend which is good. It’s great to make steps forward and we are looking to do the same in Spain in a three weeks’ time.”

Felipe Massa:

“I had another great start today and we were fighting at the top. I felt some contact with Fernando but luckily the car wasn’t damaged so I could carry on. There was a mistake at the first pitstop and that effectively lost me the race as I came back out on track in last position. It is a frustrating situation and something we need to work on to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. We have time now to work hard and improve the car for Spain.”

Felipe Massa

Felipe Massa

Major overhaul at Williams

Well, quite a change in engineering. Half expected Felipe Massa’s race engineer at Ferrari, the celebrated Mr Rob Smedley to reappear at Williams but wasn’t sure in what capacity.

Rob Smedley

Rob Smedley

In interviews Mr S had indicated ‘negotiations’ were in progress but we didn’t really know whether these were for a continued presence within Ferrari or a new position at Grove.

Now we know, and it’s a major leg up for Rob as Head of Vehicle Performance, a newly created position which will strengthen the trackside team whilst also supporting the development work back at the factory to help bring more performance to the car throughout the season. Rob’s proven track record and experience stand him in good stead for the challenges that 2014 bring.

Rob will join Williams before the Bahrain Grand Prix and he’s more than ably supported by race engineers Andrew Murdoch (Felipe Massa) and Jonathan Eddolls (who remains with Valtteri Bottas).

Richard Lockwood completes the trackside operation line-up, joining the team from Marussia as Head of Race Strategy. Richard will work with current strategist Randeep Singh who remains with the team for the 2014 season.

Commenting on the new line-up Chief Technical Officer, Pat Symonds said:

“Williams is undergoing change and these new appointments reflect how high our ambitions are. We have a number of senior people joining us to assist us in the pursuit of those ambitions and I am extremely excited to welcome them on board.

“2014 gives us the biggest change to the technical regulations that I have seen in my career, and so it will be important to add further depth to the talent we already have here as we head into the new season. Williams has always prided itself on engineering excellence and this latest announcement is part of our continued goal to bring success back to the team.”

It certainly is. Quite a change which really could help Williams regain its success. Let’s hope so.

Group CEO Mike O' Driscoll (l) with Pat Symonds

Group CEO Mike O’ Driscoll (l) with Pat Symonds

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