Williams notes Monaco gains in ‘bittersweet’ weekend

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Rob Smedley says he has noticed improvements in how Williams fared in last weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, though the British team’s performance chief admits the end result was “bittersweet”.

Williams entered round six of this year’s F1 championship looking to turn things around after its most recents visits to the narrow streets of Monte Carlo had resulted in poor showings.

Although both Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas made it into Q3 this year, the pair had to settle for 10th and 12th respectively in a thrilling wet-to-dry race.

“We got a point, which is good and we were a million miles away from scoring a point last year,” Smedley said. “But I think how much we have improved around this circuit has been marked and we could have scored a few more points so it’s a little bit disappointing.

“Actually now we have the car in the right ball park and we are looking for small incremental gains to get up to a much better level than where we are now.

“Looking at where the Force India was [Sergio Perez claimed P3], if you look at how our pace compared to them, it was actually quite good.

“It’s all a lot more logical as to how we would find performance with the car rather than last year, and the year before that, where we were a bit lost. Overall it’s bittersweet but I’m really happy with the work that we’ve done to move us forward in understanding how to better use the car [in Monaco].”

Despite its return to form in the latest 1.6-litre V6 turbocharged era, Williams has often been struggling on low-speed circuits and under wet-weather conditions. With both factors combined last weekend, Smedley says the Grove-based outfit’s performance should not be minimised.

“It’s probably a bit unfair to say ‘it’s three years and we’ve stood still’. In 2014, it was not a great race for us but it was not a disaster either. We picked up the points that the team was picking up in the poorer races at that point.

“Last year, with people having got closer to us, going backwards by that amount of time compared to 2014 was much more punitive. It was much more paramount.

“These things, you can’t fix overnight. Some of it is engrained because of history of the team and how we’ve approached this race and several elements of the performance of the car in the past. You can’t come in and say this is how it’s done at other places. It’s gotta to be a group effort.

“People like myself and Pat Symonds, we can guide things but you want people to grow and learn. You can’t come in and bang on the table and say: ‘Set up the car like this!’ and that’s the end of it.”

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