Williams Martini Racing endured an up and down weekend at the Australian Grand Prix, with Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas finishing fifth and Brazilian Felipe Massa failing to finish after a first lap crash Kamui Kobayashi.
Bottas, who started in P15, worked his way through the pack on lap one, finishing the first 3.295 miles in tenth place. But, for Massa, a technical failure on the Brake-By-Wire system on Kobyashai’s sent the Japanese driver up the back of the No.9 FW36 and into retirement.
“I’m obviously very disappointed as I had the sort of car capable of challenging for a podium today, but the incident in the first corner ruined my race,” said Massa. “I tried to have a calm start and not take any risks, but was hit from behind after Kobayashi braked too late and there was nothing I could do to avoid being taken out of the race.
“It’s a shame but there are a lot of positive things that the team can take from this weekend in terms of pace and reliability, so I’m just thinking about the next race and having a strong result there.”
For Bottas things went more smoothly, but on lap 10 the Finnish driver tapped the wall after passing a Ferrari causing a puncture, dropping the No.77 from sixth to sixteenth.
He then worked his way back up the pack before finishing in fifth place behind the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso.
“The car performed very well today which is looking encouraging for the season ahead, and on the whole as a team we can be pleased that we have made a good step forward from last season,” said Bottas. “I’m a little disappointed with myself because I was pushing a bit too hard and hit the wall which caused a puncture and put me back a long way. I spent the rest of the race trying to make up for that mistake and managed to make some good overtakes, but I need to learn from this and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“It felt great to be able to race hard with people around me and I want to say a big thank you to the race team and everyone back at Grove and Brixworth who have done a great job with this car. We should have finished higher today than we did with the pace we had and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do in Malaysia.”
Summing up the weekend, Chief Test & Support Engineer Rod Nelson said: “Valtteri drove a fabulous race and the team worked really well together, handling some tricky situations that came our way. Valtteri managed his race well and had a strong start getting up to P6, but a mistake unfortunately forced him to pit for a tyre change and he had to overtake the same cars for a second time, showing some great race craft in the process.
“It was very unfortunate for Felipe to be knocked out of the race at the start and we can only wonder where he might have finished if that hadn’t happened. On balance we leave Australia on a positive note. The car has performed well and the team has worked very well together on what proved a busy race for the pit wall, so we head into the next race with good momentum.”
The next race is in Malaysia in two weeks’ time.