Rob Smedley admitted it was a tough end to the season for the Williams Martini Racing team at the Yas Marina Circuit, with Valtteri Bottas retiring with a suspension issue and Felipe Massa concluding his career with a ninth place finish.
The Head of Performance Engineering at the Grove-based team was disappointed to end the year with a poor performance in Abu Dhabi, but felt happy that Brazilian driver Massa finished inside the points in his final Grand Prix.
“It was a tough race, as we expected it to be,” admitted Smedley. “Unfortunately, Valtteri went out with a rear suspension failure so we will look into that.
“Felipe drove a really good race in the car that he had and it was a fitting end to his career. Fernando Alonso gambled on a different tyre strategy but Felipe was able to hold him off until the end and finished ninth. It’s not where we really want to be but it was a good job by all the guys.”
Smedley took time to praise both drivers, feeling the team need to provide a better car in order to return Bottas to the podium next season, while insisting Massa will be missed as he steps away from the Formula 1 race seat, with much of his career being linked with Smedley.
“Thank you to all of the race team for the brilliant job they’ve all done,” said Smedley. “We know the car pace isn’t quick enough but they’ve never given up, always strived to get more performance and, between them all, they’ve done a really good job. And of course, thanks to the two drivers.
“It’s unfortunate what’s happened today but Valtteri has had a really strong season. We’ve got to deliver him a better car and he will keep pushing himself because there’s a lot more there that we can do together.
“I’ve known Felipe since he was a child; he’s one of my best mates. He’s not only a great driver with an outstanding career, but a really good human being as well. Then there’s his family, who have supported him throughout his career – I don’t think he ever does a race without one member of his family – and they deserve some credit for that. I wish him all the best for his life in the future.”