The Williams F1 Team put in a major effort overnight to improve the handling characteristics of its FW36 racers, which translated into sixth and eighth place on the Singapore Grand Prix grid for Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas respectively.
Both cars were well down in the timesheets in both Friday practice sessions, and the relative improvement has given the Grove team plenty of optimism for a strong showing on Sunday as it seeks to keep Ferrari from reclaiming third place in the Constructors’ Championship standings.
“On balance we should be pleased with that performance. We are just over three tenths off of the pole sitter and amongst our closest Championship competitors, despite the fact that this is a track that doesn’t particularly suit our car,” the team’s head of Performance Engineering, Rob Smedley, said.
“This is what we were aiming for before we got here so we have successfully completed the first part of the job. We showed good long run pace on Friday so we are in a strong position to come away from this race with a decent number of points.”
While positive in the wake of qualifying and fresh off the back of a long overdue return to the podium last time out at Monza, Felipe Massa was remaining cautiously optimistic heading into Sunday’s 61-lap race.
“This has been a promising qualifying for us because we have made big improvements compared to yesterday and we are in the mix with the teams around us in the championship,” the Brazilian veteran said.
“Top four [on the grid] may have been possible, especially considering how tight it is, but sixth is a solid result. What is really encouraging is that we identified the problem we had yesterday and the changes we made improved the car as we expected so a really good job by the team.
“Tomorrow will be tough. This is the longest race of the season, the conditions are challenging, and there can be safety cars so our first thought is to get both cars home in the points.”
Teammate Bottas found himself outqualified by Massa for just the fifth time this season, but pinned that on a mistake he made on his final flying lap.
“My out-lap on my final run in Q3 was a little compromised, and I made a mistake in Turn One, so given how tight it was I could have gained more places but we need to be satisfied with where we are. We know we have the pace to fight with the cars around us so tomorrow should be an exciting race,” he said.
“We made strong improvements from yesterday’s practice sessions to FP3, and we did this again going into qualifying. The mechanical set-up of the car has improved as the weekend has progressed and we have done a good job in getting the tyres into the right temperature window which we struggled with yesterday.”
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