Williams will still challenge Red Bull - Smedley

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Rob Smedley says Williams will still challenge Red Bull this season despite Max Verstappen's victory in the Spanish Grand Prix.

With the two Mercedes drivers crashing out on the opening lap, the race became a straight fight between the two Red Bulls and two Ferraris. Verstappen took victory with Daniel Ricciardo fourth ahead of Valtteri Bottas in the lead Williams, but head of performance engineering Smedley says Red Bull remains the team's target.

"The pitwall worked well and the pitstops were fantastic again; the team seems to be building in confidence as our stops continue to improve," Smedley said. "Unfortunately, the car’s pace isn’t quick enough at the moment. Red Bull may have won, but we won’t stop challenging them. We’ll keep pushing them as hard as we can, and in order to do that, we need more pace from the car."

Having praised Bottas, Smedley was also pleased with Felipe Massa's recovery from 18th to eighth but says the team needs to learn from the qualifying error which saw the Brazilian drop out in Q1.

"Felipe’s race was much more complex. It was a much harder job to get those four points. I think we did a really good job in terms of strategy, which we switched around a little bit. We had planned a three-stop strategy, but we changed our tyre plan in the middle of the race to ensure Felipe had good pace to overtake and make progress when he needed to.

"We got him past the McLarens and onto the back of Perez, but he was unfortunately not able to pass at the end. That’s what we expected him to do in the race, and Felipe delivered. It was unfortunate he had to start from 18th, but we’ve all made mistakes and we’ve got to learn from them and do better next time."

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