It was a day of playing catch-up for the Williams Martini Racing team in Abu Dhabi after both Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa saw their first practice sessions cut short by bodywork issues.
Bottas only completed eight laps in first practice after shedding a large chunk of his sidepod down the back straight, but felt he made up for some of the lost time in second practice where he finished fifth.
“After some issues in FP1 we managed to make up some lost time in FP2,” said Bottas. “In the second session everything worked well, but there is still some work to do tomorrow with regards to the balance of the car. In some corners I lose the front and in others, the rear, so I want to get that sorted early.
“There is time, so we are under no pressure, and we still have some tuning to go which will add performance.”
The bodywork issue was caused by a cooling configuration change brought about bodywork fastener issues, and the problem was rectified before second practice.
“We knew that by changing some bits it would be OK,” added Bottas. “We tried something different with it. I think the main thing was how it was connected and a different sidepod, which we have not run at as quick track as this before.
“It is good we tried it in FP1. There was not much performance in it.”
Team-mate Massa was also affected by the same problem, with the Brazilian also forced to sit out the session after just seven laps. He finished tenth in second practice, but felt he struggled to find grip when running on new tyres, and will be looking to sort out his issues so to close the gap on Saturday.
“I wouldn’t say I had a perfect day, but I know the areas that I need to improve and how I will do this, so I am not worried,” said Massa. “The first session wasn’t too much of an issue, luckily I saw the problem early, and so the bodywork didn’t come off.
“The afternoon was better, we made some progress but I still struggled on the new tyres. The Mercedes are still looking quick, but we will keep working to close the gap.”