Williams’ Rob Smedley: “The red flag didn’t come out very quickly”

Valtteri Bottas - Credit: Andrew Hone/Williams

Rob Smedley admitted the decision to pit Valtteri Bottas late behind the safety car was the critical move that cost the Williams Martini Racing team a better result than eighth at the Belgian Grand Prix.

The team had expected the red flags to fly when Kevin Magnussen crashed heavily at Raidillon and damaged the barriers, but the delay in halting the crash meant the team pitted Bottas from fourth position that ultimately left him fighting back through the field from twelfth to finish eighth.

With Felipe Massa finishing only tenth, the team lost its grip on fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship, and Smedley, the Head of Performance Engineering at Williams, hopes they can come back fighting at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza next weekend.

“It was a disappointing race to come out with so few points,” admitted Smedley. “The key point of the race for us was the safety car when Magnusson had the huge accident and damaged the barrier.

“We thought it would be a red flag and so planned our strategy around that, however the red flag didn’t come out very quickly, and so we had to pit Valtteri. The red flag did finally come out, as predicted, however by this point it had ruined our race.

“From then on our afternoon was set as we just didn’t have the pace to move further forward. We will now go to Monza and try harder.”