The Williams Martini Racing team were left rueing the rain in Belgium as their wet weather pace is not as strong as their dry weather pace. Neither the less, both Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa were able to qualify within the top ten at Spa-Francorchamps, and both are hoping for a dry race so to be able to use the true speed of the car.
Bottas qualified sixth but less than four tenths of a second away from Sebastian Vettel in third, but felt disappointed that the session was held in wet conditions after posting the best time of anyone in the morning free practice session.
“The final practice where I finished P1 showed that we have a very strong car in the dry, but wet conditions allow other cars to move closer to us and unfortunately we didn’t qualify as high today as we can,” reflected Bottas. “I lost some tyre temperature in my warm up lap because of traffic which is crucial for us and this made my final run trickier than the ones before, and throughout qualifying we were losing time in the second sector.
“Our wet pace has improved a lot though since the beginning of the season and P6 is still a good grid slot. We can still do a lot tomorrow and if it is a dry race then we stand a good chance of challenging Ferrari and Red Bull.”
Team-mate Massa was also disappointed to have lost tyre temperature after being held up on his warm up lap that ultimately left the Brazilian down in ninth place on the grid, but hopes for a dry race on Sunday so to be able to show the true speed of the Williams.
“The rain was very tricky today and prevented us from showing our true pace,” said Massa. “Our pace looked solid in Q1 and Q2, but I had traffic in Q3 on my warm up lap and because of that I was not able to warm my tyres up properly which stopped me getting the full performance out of the car on my flying lap.
“Even though the track was drying and getting quicker in Q3, I was slower than my Q2 time so that shows that I could have gone faster if my lap had come together. Tomorrow is another day and hopefully we can show the pace we have and move up the field.”
Head of Performance Engineering Rob Smedley felt the team played the conditions sensibly, and learned from the mistakes earlier in the season in similar conditions such as at Silverstone where both drivers were eliminated in the first part of qualifying.
“These sort of variable wet conditions are always very tricky and can catch people out,” admitted Smedley. “We played it sensibly and managed to get both cars through into the top 10, which is positive, and we need to be satisfied with that, with Valtteri only three tenths adrift of third position.
“We saw on Friday that we have strong long run pace in dry conditions and we expect a largely dry race, so we are confident that both drivers can make up places tomorrow and secure some good points.”