The Williams F1 pairing of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas go into the third round of the championship having secured the team’s first double points finish since the 2012 United States Grand Prix. Massa finished seventh with Bottas right on his tail in eighth, in a race that saw the team suffer a row over team orders.
“For our fans, we want to apologise for that because we didn’t handle it in the best way,” said Williams F1 deputy team principal Claire Williams said to Autosport. “What happened in Malaysia wasn’t the best, and it wasn’t a situation that was handled particularly well.
“But we all learn from our mistakes pretty quickly, so we have spent the last few days after Malaysia going through the grand prix in minute detail, looking at the mistakes that we made and how we can rectify them so we don’t have a repeat in the future.
“It was a team effort. We all sat with the drivers, the engineers and went through it. That’s the most important thing to come out of a situation like that, you can have an open and honest discussion and then you can put new procedures in place that allow you to move on so that you don’t make a repeat in the future.”
Both Massa and Bottas are eager to put the Malaysia race behind them and move forward, but both spoke about what went down in Sepang last weekend.
“What happened at the last race was not correct. I’m sure the team will say that as well,” said Massa. “I put my ideas on the table with everybody inside the team and everything was clear.
“Everything should be fine and I believe what’s happened in the last race won’t happen again until it’s the right time for it to happen. It was not the correct time at the last race.”
“It always depends on the situation but hopefully we will be allowed to race a bit more,” added Bottas. “I think it’s clear as a team there are definitely some things we could have done better in Malaysia. But we will learn from that.
“Maybe the situation could have been better explained. I could have had a go at [Jenson] Button but if I couldn’t do it then maybe he would get his position back. We’ll know for the future.”
Looking ahead to Bahrain, both drivers are eager to continue the strong start to the season the Williams team has had, and the team currently sit fourth in the championship with twenty points.
”Bahrain will be different from last season, normally it’s a very hot race but it’s not humid like Malaysia, it’s really dry which helps from a driver’s physical point of view,” said Massa. “It will be a change this year as it’s a night race so we expect the temperatures to be cooler. We’ve been testing there in the winter so all the teams will have an idea about what set-up to use; we know what we have to focus on and where we can improve as well.
“Bahrain is a really nice place; I’ve won there twice in the past so I’m looking forward to getting back there.”
Team-mate Bottas has scored points in both races to date, with a strong drive to fifth in Australia followed by the eighth in Malaysia.
“We have had a lot of testing in Bahrain so we have more of an idea about our set-up which makes things easier,” added Bottas. “Obviously the weather will be different as it will be night, but I think it’s going to be a great sight to see the cars under the lights, so I’m looking forward to that. We didn’t look too bad in testing in Bahrain, so we are looking to the race as a potential for some good points.”
Williams F1 chief engineer Rod Nelson knows of the issues drivers will face when they tackle the Bahrain International Circuit, with the rough track surface and the sand causing havoc to tyre wear and degradation.
“Sakhir is well known to all of the teams as we spent eight days testing there in February and March with our new cars this year,” said Nelson. “It’s the circuit with the highest brake energy, and common issues are high brake wear combined with high brake temperatures. Due to a high track roughness and some of the highest track temperatures of the year, tyre wear and thermal degradation could both be issues here.
“We expect daytime temperatures to be several degrees higher than when we were here last. However for the first time in the race’s history we are to have a night race. This can present its own problems, with temperatures dropping after the start, which is almost the same time as the sun sets.
“Whilst rain isn’t generally an issue here we often have quite high winds from the Gulf and not only can this affect car balance it means that sand on the track can be an issue, particularly at the start of the day.”
In other Williams news, it has been announced that reserve driver Felipe Nasr will get his first taste of free practice when he drives the car of Valterri Bottas in FP1 before he starts his GP2 Series season with Carlin.