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Massa and Williams at odds over Q1 exit

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Massa and Williams at odds over Q1 exit
By:
May 14, 2016, 5:14 PM

Felipe Massa and Williams technical chief Pat Symonds are at odds over whether or not the team needs to rethink it approach to qualifying, after the Brazilian's Q1 exit at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Felipe Massa, Williams
Felipe Massa, Williams FW38
Felipe Massa, Williams FW38
Felipe Massa, Williams FW38
Pat Symonds, Williams Chief Technical Officer
Pat Symonds, Williams Chief Technical Officer
Felipe Massa, Williams
Felipe Massa, Williams FW38
Felipe Massa, Williams FW38

Massa failed to make it out of Q1 at Barcelona after losing time with traffic during his first run, and then failing to have enough time to go out again for a second run.

Too late

The Brazilian thinks it was a team mistake to only give him enough room to get a single run in.

“We went out too late in the first session and most of the other teams went before us,” explained Massa.

“If you don't have a clean lap for whatever reason, then you need to go again – which is what most of the other teams did.

“I had traffic on my first lap, I couldn't pass and we had no time to go out again. We tried but it was wrong timing plan.”

When asked if the approach the team took to qualifying – in only planning for one run – needed changing for the next race, Massa said: “I think so, yeah. We cannot lose any opportunity to score points.

“We are here for the points, and qualifying is part of that. We need to do a perfect job all the time and qualifying is a big part for good points at the end of the race.”

But Symonds believes that, even with traffic, Massa should have been able to get through – and that a single run in Q1 is important because it saves tyres for the later sessions.

“I think that it would be have been nice if we had got a second run in, but it would have been nice if we hadn't had to do a second run,” explained Symonds.

“He did have a couple of cars on that lap in front and they did put him off a little bit, but we didn't really plan to have to do a second run today. I guess we paid quite heavily for it, which is a shame, really.”

Right approach

Symonds says that being aggressive in Q1 – to save tyres for later – is important because, in theory, it should be straightforward for Williams to get through.

“With hindsight, you can be quite wise about these things, but it can be quite hard,” he said. “Racing is about taking everything to the limit. It is not about being safe; it is about getting maximum performance.

“Now you might say, do you need maximum performance in Q1? Well, no, you don't. It should be reasonably easy to get through. So there is an argument.

“But if you get that mindset of 'let's do two runs in Q1 and let's burn tyres', you are on the back foot then to be able to do it and get through in one hit.

“I guess it was a little bit tighter here than you expected anyway, but two cars [of traffic on a qualifying lap] is not unusual.”

When asked if actually he thought the team's approach to qualifying needed to change in response to what had happened, Symonds said: “I think we will obviously go through it all as our normal analysis, and we will wait until we have looked at it all again. But my first answer is no.

“It caught us this time – but Q1 is not a competition. I think it is so important to understand how to approach qualifying. It is not a competition, it is just a means to an end.

“Q2 can start to get competitive and Q3 is obviously a competition. You just need to think your way through it. But you guys are always criticising Williams for playing safe!”

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