Felipe Massa finished the Australian Grand Prix sixth, securing eight points for the team, whilst a front left brake failure for Lance Stroll cut his Formula One debut short.
Felipe’s race got off to a strong start as the Brazilian took P6 from Grosjean at lights out on a set of used ultrasofts. Meanwhile, Lance made an impressive start to his first ever Grand Prix, making good progress up to P14. The 18-year-old also had a fantastic start, avoiding a collision between Giovinazzi and Ericsson on the opening lap, which caused a flat spot on his supersoft tires and meant he had to pit early for a new set of ultrasofts.
Whilst Felipe held sixth after the pitstops, Lance pitted again and battled with drivers on a one-stop strategy, running as high as 13th, before an issue with his front left brake forced him to retire from his Formula One debut.
Felipe’s result secures eight points, placing him sixth in the Drivers’ Championship and Williams Martini Racing kick off the opening race of the 2017 season P4 in the Constructors’ Championship
Paddy Lowe, Chief Technical Officer:
The first race is always very important and it’s great to get good points with sixth position for Felipe. He had great pace the whole way through the race, and was very controlled with a strong start, good first corner and so managed to get ahead of Grosjean. His tire management was also very good so we were able to do the one stop that we had planned all along. Probably even more important though, was to see solid pace that keeps us in touch with the three teams at the front. It is a shame for Lance, who put in a good first drive with some overtakes in his first race in Formula One, so it is a shame that he then had to retire with a brake failure. Clearly that’s an issue we need to get on top for the races to come and make sure we don’t have a repeat. But, overall, congratulations to the team back in Grove who have built a great car to launch our 2017 campaign.
It was definitely a good race. I knew the most important thing for me was to overtake Grosjean at the start, because the competition was looking more with him than with the other guys in front who I knew would be very difficult to beat such as Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes. I had a very good start and passed him, then my race was free from there until the end. The result was just great. I was so happy with the whole race. The way I was managing the tires, the consistency, the work from the whole team, the pitstop, everything worked really well. We managed to beat the teams behind us in the right way. This is something we can really think about in terms of working towards the World Championship. I’m really happy with the result today, so thanks to the whole team. Not bad for an old boy!
Today we were running a decent race and the pace was pretty good. I had a good start, which was risky although I didn’t plan on it being quite so risky! Some guys braked quite early in front of me and I managed to gain some places, but then I had a flat spot so had to stop early and, strategy-wise, we changed to a two-stop. Then we managed to have a surprisingly good race. It was my first race, and first weekend, so there are a few positives to take out of it. We had what I believe was a brake disc failure. I just hit the pedal, it went long and I was lucky it was in a place where there was a lot of run-off. Unfortunately, that incident yesterday cost us a lot of positions in qualifying, but today I enjoyed myself and so a big thank you to the team.