The Williams F1 team continue to improve, as Valtteri Bottas started fourth and finished fifth at the Spanish Grand Prix. With the pace of the Mercedes and Red Bull’s, fifth was the best he could have hoped for. For team-mate Felipe Massa, it was a disappointing race with tyre issues and traffic meaning he finished out of the points.
Bottas equalled his best finish in Formula 1 with fifth place, having run third early in the race but the pace of the Red Bull cars of Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel was too much for the young Finn, especially with the newer tyres Vettel had as he closed down Bottas in the final stint of the race.
“Today we did our best,” said Bottas. “The strategy was correct and the team did really well in the pit stops, I made no mistake on the track so we made the maximum of what was on offer and got some good points from it. It’s pleasing to be in the points and it equals my best ever result. It was a shame Vettel was so quick at the end, I tried to defend, but he had fresher tyres. The atmosphere in the team is fantastic, we are all pushing forward and points feed that hunger.”
For Massa, he made another good start but found his path blocked by Ricciardo so could not move up the field as much as he would have liked. The experienced Brazilian then had a race stuck in traffic that increased the rate in which his tyres lost their performance and ended up out of the points down in thirteenth at the end because of it.
“I made a good start and could have made more positions, but Ricciardo was in front so I couldn’t do anything,” said a disappointed Massa. “The three-stop strategy would have worked had the first stint been clean, but I had cars in front which damaged my tyres a lot. This meant that rather than pulling away from them and having clean track, when they pitted they had the advantage. This happened again at the start of the second stint, so things just didn’t go my way.”
Rob Smedley, the Head of Performance Engineering of Williams F1, admitted the team were in a positive frame of mind as they felt they were the third quickest team in Spain behind Mercedes and Red Bull Racing.
“The car was the third quickest yesterday, as it was today, so overall we are pleased to be there,” said Smedley. “We came here with an upgrade package and it’s clearly worked. Valtteri did a good job to make a two-stop work. We tried a different strategy with Felipe to try and release him, but unfortunately his race didn’t quite work out, so we all need to look into every aspect to make sure we are in the best shape with Felipe for Monaco. We are very positive for the future though.”