It was a mixed day for the Williams Racing team as the 2015 Formula 1 season officially got underway with the Australian Grand Prix.
The new Mercedes-powered FW37s ran comfortably inside the top-ten across both sessions, although Felipe Massa failed to complete any FP2 running thanks to a water leak in his car’s power unit.
The Brazilian had lapped seventh-quickest in the opening practice session, posting a fastest time of 1:31.188 which was some 1.6 seconds slower than the ultimate practice pace set by Nico Rosberg.
“It’s a bit disappointing to have only run in one session today; a water leak in the power unit required a repair. The more you run the more you understand the best direction to take with the set-up and what the track conditions are like, but at least I managed to get some valuable laps under my belt in the morning and the overall feeling from the car is positive. It’s also good to identify any problems early on rather than experiencing them in qualifying or the race,” the veteran said at the end of the day.
Teammate Valtteri Bottas encountered no such troubles, with the Finn completing his entire programme to evaluate a number of set-up options, aerodynamic part evaluations and tyre work. Bottas was third-fastest in the opening practice session with a 1:30.748 lap time; he improved on that time with a 1:29.265 in FP2, which was good enough for fifth-fastest.
“It was a very productive Friday; whilst Felipe was unlucky with a technical problem and lost some running, we managed to complete our run programme and get as prepared as we can for qualifying and the race,” he said.
“Straight out of the box the car felt good; it was particularly good in the long runs and the tyres felt consistent with not much drop off in performance. We can still find improvements in the short run pace and do more to unlock the tyre performance over one lap, so that will be a focus in tomorrow’s third practice session.”
The team’s Head of Performance Engineering, Rob Smedley, was especially pleased with the FW37’s overall pace and also how the entire team coped with the disruption caused by Massa’s technical dramas.
“We picked up a lot of data on Valtteri’s car and completed all of the tests we had planned so it was a good day for him. Unfortunately our post FP1 inspection identified a water leak on the power unit of Felipe’s car. This required the power unit to be removed from the chassis to repair, which resulted in Felipe missing FP2. We didn’t have any other reliability issues with the car that are causing us concern.
“For us a Friday is not about making headlines or chasing laptime; we keep our heads down and diligently go about our business. That is exactly what we have done and I’m pleased to see that the team has picked up from where we left off in Abu Dhabi and worked well as a unit.”
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