Smedley qualifies Williams race in Austria as 'pretty mediocre'

ยฉ XPB 

Williams head of performance Rob Smedley admitted the Grove outfit's level of performance Sunday's Austrian GP was a far cry from what had been expected.

Felipe Massa, who got his afternoon underway from the pitlane, retired with a overheating brakes while Valtteri Bottas struggled with tyre graining, crossing the checkered flag ย a lackluster 9th.

"It was not where we need to be," said Smedley.

"It was just pretty mediocre throughout, we didn't have the pace in the car itself. Valtteri wasn't able to make the tyres last, which is a little bit strange for him, but even without that, the pace in the car just wasn't there.

"With the asphalt changes they have made here, I think it's a different circuit. We need to try and understand it, we need more expertise in that area and to improve our knowledge of tyre science."

Massa forced start from the pitlane was a result of the team reverting to the FW38's regular front wing after structural damage was identified on a new one Williams had mounted on the Brazilian's car.

"We noticed that there was some structural damage to it, on the mainplane," Smedley explained.

"We may have been able to do some of the race on it, but we weren't prepared to take that risk. The safety of our drivers and our people is paramount so we took the decision we would change that front wing and upon doing that, we rolled back to the old spec.

"Even though we had a downgrade in performance, we had broken the parc ferme rules and we had to start from the pitlane."

Unsurprisingly, Smedley speculated that that front wing's damage had probably been caused by stress associated with the Red Bull Ring's kerbs, a subject of much debate over the weekend with four teams also suffering suspension failures in Austria.

"I'd be fairly sure that the running over the kerbs, probably on the exit Turn 2 from what we see in the data.

"It's a fatigue issue, it's certainly not an impact failure as he didn't run over any of the very high kerbs on the outside of the circuit."

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