Williams defends race strategy

Williams insists it did the right thing in letting its drivers race in the early stages of the British Grand Prix, rather than imposing orders to try to back up rivals Mercedes.

Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas led the opening stages at Silverstone and, after an initial order to not lose time fighting each other, were eventually unleashed to contest the front spot.

But that decision has been questioned because it left the door open for the pursuing Lewis Hamilton to eventually grab the lead by making an earlier switch to better rubber at the first round of pitstops.

Tortoise and hare

One option that Williams could have taken would have been to use one of its drivers to slow down the Mercedes cars, allowing one of their men to build up a cushion at the front which would have guaranteed he kept the leads at the first stops.

But Williams performance chief Rob Smedley said that such an idea was never given serious thought, because the priority of his outfit was always to treat both drivers fairly.

"We don't want to favour one driver over another," he said. "It is a team effort and the main thing is we wanted to get as many points as possible for the team.

"The team comes before anybody. It is Frank's team: that is clear. And that was our number one objective. To get the points for the team."

When suggested to him that his former outfit Ferrari may well have been more ruthless in using the spoiler tactics, Smedley said: "Possibly yeah, but this is not Ferrari.

"This is not any other team. This is Williams and we have our rules of engagement, and the rules of engagement are such that we were happy to see them race as long as they were not holding each other up."

Pitstop timing

Hamilton's decision to pit first was key to moving him to the head of the race, but Smedley says Williams could not have gone for new tyres any earlier because of worries about making its second set of rubber last until the end.

"We didn't want to go too early because we wanted to make sure that we nailed the one stop, and make sure that we could make the one stop happen," he said.

"That was absolutely our main priority because we knew that was the fastest strategy and it is always that cat and mouse game of not having to stop early, so you run out of tyres in the end. And that was the decision we were making.

"We were watching what Mercedes were going to do, knowing that they had a quicker car. You saw their in laps, they were quite stunning, their pit stops were very good as well.

"It was the balance of not waiting too long but not stopping too early so we didn't run out of tyres at the end of the race."

Inter stop too late

Smedley did concede though that the one area where Williams could have done better was to stop earlier for the intermediate tyres when the rain came late on.

"We were waiting until the right time to stop and I think Lewis stopped one lap earlier than us, and he made a really great decision there," he explained.

"We were just trying to watch our sectors and that middle sector of the lap when he stopped was getting much quicker.

"The rain was just hitting at the pit exit area on the pit straight and when it did hit, Seb Vettel still had 15 seconds more to make that decision when it was clearly going to be wet and our cars were just past the pit entry.

"Once you pass the pit entry then we had to do another lap like that. It was disappointing we didn't get that."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Event British GP
Track Silverstone
Drivers Felipe Massa , Valtteri Bottas
Teams Williams
Article type Breaking news