Williams head of performance vehicle Rob Smedley is “confident” his team can fight at the sharp end of the field once again to challenge Ferrari during this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix.
The Grove-based outfit secured his first 2015 podium last time out in Canada, courtesy of Valtteri Bottas’ strong drive to third. Although he lined up 15th on the Montreal grid, team-mate Felipe Massa enjoyed a solid recovery that netted him sixth.
“We are coming out of a race where we’ve shown great pace and good tyre management,” said Smedley. “So going into Austria we can be confident of aiming for the front again.”
“Third is looking even more solid but we can’t take anything for granted and it isn’t just about third. We want to push on and try to close up to Ferrari.”
Coming after power-hungry Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, the Red Bull Ring is another fast and flowing track where Mercedes engines are expected to remain the benchmark. Smedley believes the Austrian layout will indeed suit the FW37.
“It’s a circuit that is very rewarding for power and drag and we know that our car is strong in these areas, so we’re confident.
“It’s a circuit where we can make points on [Ferrari] and that is our target.”
Returning to Spielberg also bears a special significance for Williams, with the British team beating Mercedes in qualifying and locking out the front row of the Austrian Grand Prix grid 12 months ago.
Sir Frank Williams’ squad is actually the only other F1 outfit to have claimed a pole position since the current generation of power units was introduced into the sport in early 2014.