Williams’ Rob Smedley: “Valtteri drove a brilliant race”

by Paul Hensby

Rob Smedley was happy that the Williams Martini Racing squad were able to show just how strong they were at the Malaysian Grand Prix with Valtteri Bottas’ car, although the Head of Performance Engineering at the Grove-based team was far from content with the outcome of Felipe Massa’s afternoon.

Bottas drove a superb one-stop strategy to climb from eleventh to fifth at the Sepang International Circuit, and Smedley feels the team can be proud of that result, with great calls from the pit wall and great driving from their driver.

“Overall, at least with Valtteri, we were able to show what we can do as a team, which I don’t think we maximised yesterday knowing the potential of the car,” said Smedley. “That’s something we can all feel really proud of today.

“The teamwork and the resolve of everyone since the end of qualifying yesterday has been really good in working out the best strategy for today. It may have looked quite risky on paper, but our strategy with Valtteri was the right thing to do and it worked out well for us.  The start was great, the strategic decisions during the safety cars all worked out well, and Valtteri drove a brilliant race.”

Smedley admitted it was disappointing to see Massa have so many problems in the early stages of the race that ultimately left him down in thirteenth at the chequered flag and outside of the points.

“It’s just a shame about what happened with Felipe,” said Smedley. “We’ve got to look into why the car effectively turned off on the grid and he couldn’t get going. He then had a pit lane start.

“All the bad luck he could have had, he had. Three laps later he picked up a puncture and had to pit again, and that put him out of contention. I think he’s driven a great race and showed a lot of mental resolve to get as near to the points as he did towards the end.”

Smedley felt only losing two points to Force India in the battle for fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship was important, and is hoping the team can have a strong performance next weekend in Japan.

“Overall, as a team, we’ve worked really well together,” said Smedley. “Notwithstanding the disappointment of Felipe, it’s been a really good Sunday and we collected as many of the points on offer to us as we could.

“Despite having just one car in the points, we only lost two points to Force India today, leaving us just three adrift of them overall.  The next race is a higher efficiency race in just seven days’ time in Japan. Our aim there is going to be to maximise what will be a very good car around that track, of that there is no doubt. We need to claw that points deficit back.”  

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