Paddy Lowe saw his Williams Martini Racing drivers secure eighth and ninth position in the final Malaysian Grand Prix, but felt Felipe Massa’s race in particular was hampered by damage after early contact.
Massa had made a good start but found himself crowded out by the two Sahara Force India F1 Team drivers, and ultimately fell behind team-mate Lance Stroll after suffering some floor damage, which affected him for the remainder of the Grand Prix.
Chief Technical Officer Lowe said the damage would have had meant some performance loss for the Brazilian, and it left him to contend with a much tougher afternoon than anticipated.
“We had some rain just before the race but it had almost completely dried by the time we got to the start,” said Lowe. “Both drivers made very good starts and were in good shape to make up some places by Turn 1.
“Unfortunately, Felipe, having got as far as fifth position, got squeezed by the two Force Indias and lost some of those gains, dropping behind Lance. He damaged part of the floor on the left hand side so there will have been some performance loss.”
Lowe admitted the decision to switch the drivers back to the order in which they were running before the pit stops meant Stoffel Vandoorne was able to jump both drivers and into seventh position, but with a two-car points finish – only the third time in 2017 – it meant a good day for Williams, particularly with their championship rivals in Scuderia Toro Rosso and the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team failing to break into the top ten.
“Once the race had settled, [Nico] Hülkenberg stopped very early so we felt obliged to cover him to save position, first with Felipe and then with Lance,” revealed Lowe.
“Since Lance, who previously had the lead, ended up behind Felipe after the pit stops we felt it was correct to swap the places. We also knew Felipe’s car was carrying some damage. Unfortunately, in the execution of that we lost a potential position to Vandoorne coming out of the pits.
“It was a very long second stint for Lance and Felipe, but the tyres lasted well and we held position to finish with good points in eighth and ninth, so congratulations to both drivers for a strong weekend and a double-points finish for the team.”