Williams Martini Racing: Austrian GP Practice
As with all first practice sessions at a Grand Prix, the Williams team starts with the important work of aero evaluations, set-up and tire work in preparation for qualifying and the race.
Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering: It was a bit of a disjointed session because of the weather. We ran at the start of FP2 to try to beat the weather like everyone else, but it wasn’t possible. It rained very heavily for a long period before we decided to go out on the intermediate tire, where we tried different set-up options. Once we managed to get a clear lap in, we were reasonably competitive. I’m quite happy with how competitive we are on the dry tires. We were able to go out at the end of the session and learn a little bit about our set-up for qualifying and the race, and if we’d been able to get our laps in before the virtual safety car we would have finished the session higher. There are a lot of unknowns going into the rest of the weekend, as there always are on disjointed days like today, but that’s good because we’ve got some upgrades coming tomorrow which we’re going to try and get on the car that should move us forward. The new asphalt offers a little more grip than before, but not a huge amount. The curbs are a lot lower and the drivers reported that the track is particularly quick because of that. We’re still learning about the asphalt and its interaction with rubber, and we will continue to do so as it evolves throughout the weekend. We understood it today, but the trick with new asphalt is understanding how it evolves, what it’s going to be like on Sunday and therefore what the delta is going to be between tire compounds, and the degradation.
Valtteri Bottas: It was a bit of a tricky day in terms of car balance. Obviously with the rain in FP2, we struggled to set-up the car, but I’m sure before FP3 tomorrow we can still improve the car and our laptimes. I think it was a good idea to go out in the rain to check the balance, because there’s a possibility of rain for the rest of the weekend. We now have a good idea of how the car works in wet conditions and we will know what adjustments we need to make if it does rain.
Felipe Massa: It wasn’t a perfect Friday due to the weather, but at least we had some laps in the wet as well as the dry to understand the car in both conditions, so it wasn’t bad. We couldn’t learn everything we would have liked because of the weather, but the feeling of the car was ok in the wet, with half the track very wet and the other half quite dry, so it was actually a reasonable Friday to understand the car. The track is much quicker than before because the asphalt grip is a little bit higher and the curbs are flat, so you can use them a lot more than in the past. You can have a tricky moment if you use too much, but it’s up to you how much you use. Now we need to wait until tomorrow to understand where we are once everyone is on similar tires and fuel loads.