The Williams Martini Racing team had their best qualifying of the year at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, with Felipe Massa set to start the race in seventh place.
The Brazilian benefited from the grid penalties of the Red Bull Racing drivers Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo to start two positions higher than he qualified. Nevertheless, it is a huge step forwards from last weekend’s poor qualifying result at Spa Francorchamps where both Williams drivers were knocked out in Q1.
Massa’s rookie team-mate Lance Stroll will become the youngest ever driver to start on the front row of a Grand Prix after he was promoted from fourth to second, once again due to the Red Bull power unit penalties.
Over previous seasons, the Williams car has notoriously been poor in wet conditions, but today’s performance is an encouraging sign of progress.
“It was definitely a great qualifying for the team,” said Massa.
“For many years, our car has been difficult in wet conditions and today the car was great, which for me was very important in qualifying.”
I was happy to be in Q3, but not so happy with my position because for sure I would have been happier to be in Lance’s position. He did a fantastic job, an amazing lap and qualifying.
It was great to see what he managed to achieve in terms of laptime. I’m so happy for him. We are starting P2 and P7, so we are in a good position for the race tomorrow and we will try everything we can to have a good race with both cars.”
Massa is starting alongside McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team driver Stoffel Vandoorne and sits behind both Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, as both Scuderia Ferrari drivers had unusually poor qualifying sessions after struggling with the wet tyres on their cars.