The Williams Martini Racing enjoyed their best qualifying session for many years with a front-row lock out for the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring. Felipe Massa took top spot by 0.087s from Valtteri Bottas to take the first all-Williams front row since the 2003 German Grand Prix with Juan-Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher.
For Massa, it was the first pole position since the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix, and he was delighted to put the team back at the top of the qualifying timing screens. The Brazilian knows there is work to do on Sunday to retain first place, but he will try his best to keep the Mercedes behind him.
“It’s an incredible moment for me, but the whole team is feeling this too,” said Massa. “The team has a great history and we continue to build on that. It’s a special day. I had some traffic earlier in the session but when it counted I did the best I could.
“There is a lot to do tomorrow and we have a very strong Mercedes behind us. Today is a day I won’t forget though and it’s the first time my son has seen me get pole so emotions are high.”
Team-mate Bottas joins Massa on the front row, and for the Finn it will be his first time starting on the front row, beating his best grid spot of third from Canada in 2013 and Bahrain this year. He was slightly disappointed that it was not him on pole, but he was overjoyed for Massa and for his team. He knows the race will be tough but he is ready to challenge for a big points finish.
“I am really happy for us as a team as it is such a good result,” said Bottas. “It couldn’t have been a better Saturday for us. I would have liked to have been on pole, but Felipe had the better lap when it mattered.
“Tomorrow isn’t going to be easy as the Mercedes are still the quickest car. I pushed a bit too hard on my final lap at Turn Six, but I was already down on my quickest. Tomorrow the strategy will be important and so we have to be clever with what we do. We are in a better position than the Ferraris and the Red Bull so it should be really good fun.”
Head of Performance Engineering at Williams Rob Smedley was obviously delighted after the teams qualifying efforts. He praised both drivers and the whole team at the track and back in the factory for their hard work and dedication. He is aware the race will be long and it will be hard to keep ahead of a very strong chasing pack.
“I am really pleased,” said Smedley. “The guys have done a very good job. This is just the start of the 71 laps though but we will start in the best position possible. We need to think hard about how we maximise this in terms of points at the end of the race.
“Tomorrow will be hotter but we know from our long runs where the issues will be that we will face, it will be a defensive race tomorrow as we try to keep everyone else behind us but for the team this is a much deserved result for all the hard work that has been put in both at the factory and race track.”