The Williams Martini Racing were a lap away from taking a good haul of points in Singapore, with Felipe Massa running fifth and Valtteri Bottas sixth, but while Massa was able to comfortably hold his position, Bottas dropped out of the points when his Pirelli tyres ran out of grip.
Massa felt fifth was the best he could have hoped for on a Marina Bay track not expected to suit his Williams car, and made his final set of tyres work until the end. He was disappointed to see Bottas drop down the order as it cost the team valuable points in the championship.
“We changed the strategy from a three-stop to a two-stop after the long safety car period, and the final stint was pushing the tyre to the absolute limit but I managed to make it work,” asserted Massa. “The grip levels were very low in the final few laps but I had a big enough gap to sixth place to ease the car home.
“Given the nature of the track, fifth was probably the best position we could have hoped for this weekend, but I am of course disappointed for the team that Valtteri’s tyres were not able to hold on until the end.”
Team-mate Bottas attempted the same strategy as Massa but unlike the Brazilian, the Finn was unable to hold onto his position, and dropped out of the points altogether on the final lap as his tyres finally ran out of grip. He lost places to Jean-Eric Vergne, Sergio Perez, Kimi Raikkonen, Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen to fall to eleventh. He was disappointed to lose out on points after running seventh whilst starting the final lap, but felt there were a number of positives the team could take from the weekend in Singapore.
“After the safety car we moved to a two-stop strategy and in the end the tyres just weren’t able to hold on,” revealed Bottas. “In the final lap I had a big lock up in the rear tyres when I was defending and after that I had no grip and cars could easily sweep past. I also had an issue with the power steering in the final stint and this made it harder to keep the tyres alive as I lost a lot of feeling in the car.
“If I hadn’t had this issue then I might have been able to go until the end. Obviously I’m disappointed not to finish in the points but we can take a lot of positives from this weekend as we looked competitive at a track that is less suited to our car and we have kept third place in the Constructors’ Championship.”
Head of Performance Engineering Rob Smedley was frustrated to see Bottas drop out of the points on the final lap after both drivers put on a valiant effort to conserve their tyres and preserve their positions in Singapore.
“We knew it was going to be damage limitation this weekend and on balance we should be pleased with the result as up until the final few corners, we were set to score the same number of points as our nearest rivals in the Championship,” stated Smedley. “We took a calculated risk with the strategy and this succeeded for Felipe as it kept him ahead of Raikkonen who had a faster car, but with Valtteri it didn’t pay off as he ran out of tyres on the final lap which cost him sixth place.
“The drivers did a magnificent job behind the wheel and the team has operated very well all weekend. We are heading to tracks that will suit our car more now and we have maintained our third place in the Championship, which was the objective at the beginning of the weekend.”