The Williams Martini Racing team head into round four of the 2014 Formula One World Championship having seen its drivers both finish in the points in the Malaysia and Bahrain. Valtteri Bottas currently sits eighth in the championship on eighteen points, while Felipe Massa is eleventh with twelve points.
Both Williams drivers were in the hunt for a podium finish in Bahrain last time out before the intervention of the safety car, but were hindered by their rear tyre usage that necessitated early pit stops for both their drivers which ultimately saw them end up seventh and eighth at the end behind both Sahara Force India drivers and both Red Bull Racing drivers. But Bottas is happy about how his season is progressing after a dire 2013.
“So far the season has been positive and we are looking forward to China,” said Bottas, who has a best finish of fifth in Australia this season. “We still need to make a step forward in performance, especially as this track is quite different to Bahrain. The long straight will be our strong point as we can overtake, but we need to be good through the corners to be close enough to take advantage.
“We are hoping to improve our downforce for the slower sections of the track. Once we improve this, it should improve our overall running in all conditions so it is an area we are focusing on. The weather can be variable in China but at this point we are looking for a dry race.”
His views are echoed by team-mate Massa, whose best finish in 2014 since his move from Ferrari has been seventh in both the Malaysian and Bahrain events.
“We still need to improve the car in the wet, so we are hoping the weekend will be dry, I also prefer the dry, but there is hard work going on to improve the car,” said Massa. “There is a very long straight in China which will be good for overtaking, especially for our car as we have a good top speed.
“There are also low speed corners where good downforce is needed, so we hope we can make improvements on these sections. We hope to have a few new parts, which should help with grip and other areas that we need to improve.”
Williams’ Head of Vehicle Performance Rob Smedley spoke about what challenges lie ahead for his drivers as the season rolls into Shanghai.
“Shanghai is one of the very modern circuits with a good mix of high speed and low speed corners,” said Smedley, who also joined the Williams team from Ferrari. “It is a very particular track in that it has two corners which are very hard on the front left tyre. Turn 1 is a right-hander that has a very fast entry but slows down a lot for the apex. Turn 12 is similar in that the car is loaded onto the front left as you exit onto the back straight Both corners can give you issues with tyre management, especially front graining.
“The straight from Turn 12 to the hairpin is the longest straight on the 2014 calendar so we have to make sure we are set up for that, whilst still focusing on other areas of the track. The track is very bumpy and tends to change year on year, so the mechanical set-up has to circumnavigate any issues that the surface may hold.”