The British Grand Prix saw the Williams Martini Racing team take their best finish of the season when Valtteri Bottas claimed second place after starting well down the order. Unfortunately for team-mate Felipe Massa, his race was over before the end of the first lap when he was caught up in somebody else’s accident.
Bottas was one of the stars of the race at Silverstone, climbing from his fourteenth position on the grid to take his career best finish of second at the chequered flag. The Finn had made up five places before the red flag on the opening lap, and then overtook Fernando Alonso, both Red Bull and both McLaren drivers on track to move up to third. He inherited second when Nico Rosberg retired his Mercedes from the lead, and he was ecstatic to finish on the podium in his teams’ home race.
“We knew that this race would be good fun,” said Bottas. “We knew we had a quick car and maybe it surprised us it was so quick. The first stint we went through the field fast and that needed a bit of risk. I am so happy for the team, they have worked on race pace and it shows.
”We were thinking about points today not the podium, and the strategy guys did a great job. I really felt for Felipe today in his 200th race, and it was so nice of him to come to the podium with the team; I really appreciated that. We are a stronger team than we were in the first few races and it won’t be easy to stay near the top but we are doing a great job of it at the moment.”
Team-mate Felipe Massa was unfortunately forced to retire on the opening lap of his 200th Grand Prix as he got caught up in Kimi Raikkonen’s crash on the Wellington Straight. The Brazilian had initially made a poor start from fifteenth on the grid, but his reactions as he approached the spinning and damaged Ferrari were remarkable and meant the crash was not as big as it could have been.
“It has been a really difficult weekend,” said Massa. “It was a bad start but after that I could catch up everyone and pass cars in the first few corners. The car felt great. Then there was the accident. Kimi came across the track and I never really had a chance to miss him, and sadly the damage was too much to continue. Luckily I turned as it could have been a worse accident. It’s a weekend to forget for me personally; not the 200th Grand Prix I had planned.”
Talking to Autosport after the race, Massa thought that Raikkonen could have slowed down when trying to retake to the track after the Finn lost control of his car over a bump as he ran wide out of the Aintree corner.
“Kimi went outside of the track, he was fighting – I think maybe he passed a few cars at the start – and he wants to come back and not lose positions,” said the Brazilian. “He was unlucky because he was over a bump and lost his car; he did that because he didn’t want to lose any positions.
“When you are in free practice you back off, but when you are in the race and it’s like that you’re trying to come back as quickly as possible and that’s what he did, and he lost the car. When he hit the wall he just came completely into my car, I didn’t know what to do so I just turned right completely and the car went sideways and I hit him.
“I’m happy that he’s OK, I heard it was 47G. It’s amazing – I had 27G in Canada.”
Head of Performance Engineering Rob Smedley was delighted to see Valtteri Bottas on the podium for the second race weekend in a row, but rued the loss of Felipe Massa early in the race. He believed a good result for both cars was possible had it not been for Massa being caught up in Raikkonen’s accident.
“It’s a slightly mixed weekend,” said Smedley. “It’s a great result for Valtteri and he showed incredible race craft throughout the whole race. You couldn’t ask for anything more from the driver; he changed his race around with those overtakes in the first stint.
“It’s really disappointing for Felipe as we clearly have a great car and could have had a double podium, but he will rebuild and has the support to bounce back. Everybody is pushing and everybody is motivated in the team, and as a result we are moving forward and that is the main aim.
“I am really proud of everything that we have done and a big thank you to everyone at the team here and in Grove for all the hard work.”