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Williams searching for pace but could short term pain lead to greater F1 gain?

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Williams searching for pace but could short term pain lead to greater F1 gain?
Jul 13, 2016, 11:53 AM

Williams had a “race to forget” at the British Grand Prix, according to the team’s head of performance engineering Rob Smedley.

Williams had a “race to forget” at the British Grand Prix, according to the team’s head of performance engineering Rob Smedley.

The Grove-based squad, which finished third in the constructors’ championship for the last two seasons, has slipped to fourth in the standings behind Mercedes, Ferrari and a resurgent Red Bull.

Force India is also closing in fast on Williams, which has not achieved the results it hoped for in recent races. Force India has outscored Williams 31 points to 11 in the last three races, all on power circuits, which should have played to Williams' strengths. They are now just 19 points behind at the half way stage in the season.

Felipe Massa Nico Hulkenberg

Although Valtteri Bottas scored the team’s first podium finish of the season at the Canadian Grand Prix, its best result since that race came when the Finn finished sixth in Baku, and his teammate Felipe Massa has only scored one point since Monaco.

Writing in his column for Motorsport.com, Massa explained that Williams was searching for answers to its lack of pace at the Red Bull Ring and Silverstone.

He wrote: “At these two races in Austria and Britain, which we should have shown our best, things did not live up to expectations.

“The team though is committed to understanding the reasons for this lack of performance, and I hope that soon we will return to the positions that I know we should be competing in.”

Felipe Massa

Williams has brought upgrades to recent events, including new rear wing endplates and an updated front wing, which was test by Massa in Austria and by both drivers at Silverstone but is still yet to be used in a race.

Smedley described the FW38’s handling at Silverstone as “reasonably well balanced” and although Bottas was able to qualify in a respectable seventh, Massa failed to make Q3.

The race was even worse as both drivers struggled in the wet conditions at the start of the race; a notable characteristic of Williams’ recent cars. Bottas also spun early on and could not recover much ground while Massa needed an extra stop due to heavy and unexpected tyre degradation late in the race.

Given its modest budget compared to Red Bull, it is no surprise that the Milton Keynes outfit has moved ahead of Williams, but the team is thinking further ahead to the new aerodynamic rules coming for next season.

 Rob Smedley

Smedley believes the regulation changes, which will see F1 cars adopt wider and lower rear wings, bigger tyres and broader front wings, offer the team a chance to move up the competitive order.

Speaking earlier this year, he said: "The way we develop the cars in Formula 1 now, with the aerodynamic testing restrictions, is much more favourable for someone who is resource restricted.

"2017 offers Williams a great opportunity to close back to the frontrunners. We have to be able to do that; otherwise you join the second tier of Formula 1.

"We have to exploit that opportunity to the maximum, but the target of the company is to do that and move forwards, not just stay where it is.

"There are a lot of strengths at Williams, and we've got to continue to exploit those strengths as well as trying to grow the weaker areas as well."

Felipe Massa

One area where Williams has been the class of the field in 2016 has been pitstops. Although Mercedes' 2.33s effort at Silverstone meant the British team lost its perfect record of completing the fastest stop at every race so far this season, it still has a 9-1 lead over the German manufacturer and holds the fastest turnaround record for the year, which is the 1.92s it took to change Massa's tyres at the European Grand Prix.

What have you made of Williams in 2016? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.
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Series Formula 1
Drivers Valtteri Bottas Shop Now
Teams Williams
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