Williams Racing managed to outscore chief rivals Force India in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix to reduce the Constructors’ Championship deficit to the latter to just 8 points thanks to Felipe Massa’s seventh-placed finish, but it was a race to forget for his teammate Valtteri Bottas.
The Finn found himself caught out in the tight squeeze at Turn 1 on the opening lap – ironically seeing him hit by Force India’s Nico Hülkenberg – which caused a puncture and consigned him to a long recovery drive.
“I saw a good opportunity to try and overtake Hülkenberg in the first corner. I had a good line on the inside, but then suddenly, at the apex, he hit me from the outside,” Bottas explained after the race.
“I think he was kind of squeezed between me and Sebastian [Vettel] – so it was a very unlucky situation. I was just taking the opportunity to get [Williams] ahead of Force India, which is important for us, but today it didn’t pay off.
“I had damage in the floor, lost ten points of downforce in the rear of the car – that costs between 0.3s and 0.5 seconds per lap – and then we had to correct the front wing flap to get the car balanced again.”
Forced onto an effective one-stop strategy by pitting at the end of the opening lap, Bottas ran out of tyres in the closing stages of the race and fell to sixteenth place at the chequered flag after being overtaken late in the race by Felipe Nasr.
“One of the Saubers overtook me [late in the race] but that’s what we tried: we tried to make the most out of it but it was just an unlucky day,” he added. “We closed the gap to Force India, a tiny bit, but there was certainly an opportunity to get a much better result today.”
By contrast, Massa crossed the finish line in an eventual seventh place, but found himself the victim of a hip-and-shoulder lunge by McLaren’s Fernando Alonso in the final laps of the race that led to the Brazilian receiving a puncture.
“Fernando dived into the corner I was taking, hit my car and I got a puncture because of it,” Massa recalled.
“It destroyed every opportunity I had to finish the race in sixth, and potentially fifth. We still finished seventh and closed the gap to Force India, but it should have been more. It’s time to look ahead to Mexico.”
Image via Williams Martini Racing