The Williams Martini Racing team head into the Austrian Grand Prix having continued their scoring run last time out in Canada where Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas scored six points for seventh position. Team-mate Felipe Massa was on course for a better result but was eliminated in a final lap crash while challenging for fourth.
Massa is one of only four current Formula One drivers to have raced at the Red Bull Ring, then called the A1-Ring, in F1. He will want to put the disappointment of his Canadian Grand Prix behind him when he was on course for a top four finish before crashing out on the final lap after a collision with Sergio Perez’s Force India.
“There are very few guys who have driven the circuit which is a little advantage but the track and limit may have changed and the cars have changed so it won’t be the same as 11 years ago,” said Massa. “It’s not a difficult track to learn and we have the best drivers in the world in Formula One so they will be able to get up to speed very quickly. We can be competitive here but at the moment it’s hard to tell where we will be compared to our competition.”
Team-mate Bottas is one of the many who have never raced at the circuit before but having spent 2013 learning new circuits, he knows how to get acquainted with them. He is hoping the Williams team are competitive this weekend so he can score points for the seventh time in eight races.
“I’ve spent a lot of time in the simulator to prepare of Austria as I haven’t driven the circuit before,” said Bottas. “I have also spoken with Felipe as he is one of the four drivers who have raced this track in Formula One. Learning a new track has never been a problem for me and I have the practice sessions to get to grips with things.
“I have heard only good things about the track and the fans, so I am really looking forward to getting there. It’s a little unknown how competitive we will be as there will be some upgrades, but we will as always give it our best.”
Head of Performance Engineering Rob Smedley is hopeful for another strong performance from his drivers as they arrive in Austria. He believes tyre temperature could be a big factor this weekend in how the cars work around the Red Bull Ring but all the simulator work will have helped with the initial set up.
“Austria represents a new challenge for us and therefore a lot of new opportunity to do well,” said Smedley. “Formula One hasn’t been there for 11 years so it’s exciting to go back. The layout of the track can pose issues on the tyres, especially as the temperatures can vary to quite hot or very cold, this can also change quickly. There may be brake-overheating problems as it is a high duty track, which is something we will need to look out for.
“The track is short and there are 71 laps which will affect the race strategy so we will have to be more dynamic in this area. All the teams will have done extensive work on the simulator to learn the typology of the circuit and the demands it poses on tyres and the car, so we are all prepared for an exciting weekend ahead.”