The Williams Martini Racing Team paid the ultimate tribute to their former driver and F1 legend Ayrton Senna on the 22nd anniversary of the Brazilian’s death as Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa ended the Russian Grand Prix in 4th and 5th place respectively collecting 22 valuable points for the Grove based outfit in their fight with Red Bull Racing for third place.
Valtteri Bottas started the race from the front row alongside Nico Rosberg but lost second place to Kimi Raikkonen at the start but used the Mercedes power advantage to get past his countryman.
Speaking following the race, Bottas commented by saying:
The beginning of the race was pretty good and we managed to defend against some of the quicker cars behind. I think being aggressive with the early pitstop was good but unfortunately the cars with more pace managed to get through, and at the end of the race there wasn’t much happening for me. All-in-all the team has done a good job this weekend. It’s positive to get a lot of points for Williams. There’s definitely progress, this is a good track for us so that helped, but we just need to keep improving. I definitely had more in mind today than fourth so we need to keep pushing.
Williams head into the European leg of the season on 51 points just six behind Red Bull Racing and speaking following the race, Williams Head of Performance Engineering Rob Smedley commented by saying:
It was a good race, and it was a really good weekend. Every day we got our heads down and have done what we needed to do. The car performance is going forward, even in race trim today. We had improving pace against Ferrari and Mercedes and that’s what we need to keep heading towards. I think our pace against Red Bull this weekend has been really good; they’ve had a bad weekend and we’ve absolutely capitalised on that. Felipe’s tyres were degrading a bit towards the end so we made a precautionary stop and let him run on the supersofts again, as we had enough of a margin to easily stop him and retain fifth. The race played out just as we expected it to really, so it was very good from that point of view. We’ve gained 22 points over Red Bull and Toro Rosso, so that’s really good, and third is well within our sights now; we just have to keep heading towards it. As I’ve mentioned before, we’ve developed the car a lot, but we need another two or three tenths, and we just need to keep developing it, in all areas. Nobody is free from finding performance in Formula One, and certainly not at Williams, but I think we got the most we could have done out of today.
Felipe Massa started Sunday’s race from fourth place and went on to finish the race in fifth place just behind Bottas and speaking following the race, the Brazilian commented by saying:
I think it was a very positive weekend for us and a very positive race. I would have loved to finish fourth and not fifth, but that’s just part of the game so I’m happy with the result. We managed to score a lot more points than Red Bull, and that’s the target for us right now. They have a very good team and a very good car, but we need to keep believing. This weekend was a very good weekend so we need to keep fighting like that. I think for the team the best position was fourth and fifth. Valtteri was able to manage the tyres better here, whilst I was able to manage them better in China. That’s the way it goes, but today’s result is very good for Williams.