After the highs of Austria, the Williams Martini Racing team’s difficult weekend at Silverstone continued as both Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa were eliminated in the first part of qualifying.
Bottas will start fourteenth on Sunday, gaining 3 places after current Lotus and former Williams driver Pastor Maldonado was put to the back of the grid for a technical infringement, Max Chilton was demoted for a gearbox change, and Esteban Gutierrez was penalised after his Austria pit stop infringement, but the Finnish driver was disappointed to fall at the first hurdle when he knows the car is capable of being at or near the front.
“The whole session was unbelievable,” said Bottas. “We left it too late to go out on the dry tyre so we didn’t get the run in as it started to rain again. Truthfully we were unlucky it started to rain. We had the pace to get to Q3 so we missed a good opportunity. It’s a long race tomorrow and we have a good car so we can still get back into the points, but again the weather will play its part.”
Team-mate Massa will start one place further back in fifteenth, and rued the decision not to be on track when the circuit was at its optimum. He knows how difficult it will be score points from this far back on the grid, but he knows the pace of the car should enable him to move up from his grid slot.
“It was really a missed opportunity to get the car in a good position for tomorrow,” said Massa. “We didn’t expect the rain and the track was drying so we had to get the lap in. The moment it started raining again and that was it, it was over. We have a lot to do tomorrow and it will not be easy but the car is quicker than where we are.”
Head of Performance Engineering Rob Smedley admitted the team made errors in qualifying that they were left to reflect on with their lowly grid slots. He feels points could be on the cards with the speed of the car as it is.
“We have a good car so it’s very disappointing to be in 17th and 18th,” said Smedley. “We were trying to mark the people on track but our timings were wrong. We didn’t see the rain coming as quickly as it did, but that’s not an excuse, it’s an error which we can’t make again. How we recover tomorrow is important now and getting into the points is still our goal, as we have the car for it and we need to try and get as many points as we can over our closest championship rivals.”