Felipe Massa, Williams, Sepang International Circuit, 2014

Williams need dry weather to be competitive

2014 Malaysian Grand Prix

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Felipe Massa, Williams, Sepang International Circuit, 2014Rain during qualifying left the Williams team frustrated as they were unable to exploit their car’s dry weather performance.

Both drivers failed to reach Q3 in the second rain-hit qualifying session out of two so far this season.

“The car is clearly struggling in wet conditions compared to the competitive pace it has been showing in the dry,” said chief test and support engineer Rod Nelson, “so this is something we will be analysing closely”.

“The conditions here in Malaysia are so changeable that we will have to prepare for the possibility of rain again tomorrow, but obviously drier conditions will be beneficial in allowing us to make our way through the pack in a similar vein to what we managed to do in Australia.”

Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa switched between the different types of tyre on offer in Q2 as they tried to improve their times.

“In Q2 Valtteri was keen to start on intermediates and Felipe felt that the wet tyre would be the best choice,” said Nelson.

“They were both reporting a lack of grip and rear instability as the rain continued to fall, and switched tyres to try and improve but were not able to find the sort of lap time needed to progress into Q3.”

“In dry conditions we are normally fighting for a top six position and the car feels good,” said Massa, “but when it is wet the car lacks grip and can feel unstable with lots of sliding which is something we need to address”.

“It’s a shame as this qualifying result is not really reflective of where we should be.”

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Keith Collantine
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16 comments on “Williams need dry weather to be competitive”

  1. Frustrating the hell out me too. The penalty aswell is just plain stupid. Ricciardo got into Q3 so what is the problem. He didn’t even held him up really, he was going to start his own fast lap and took the wider line every driver had taken through it. Just ridiculous.

    Hamilton on pole of course, It’s not like it was ever exciting. Vettel did a stunner lap but with the rain and the typical Red Bull downforce that was expected. I thought Rosberg would however push him down to third.

    Williams have their work cut out once more. If luck is on their side and the weather stays dry, I still see no reason why they could not be on the podium. Bahrein must see a Williams on the podium for sure.

    I typed it before, they need those points now because other teams will catch up. Strike when they struggle which is now. Not in Barcelona when probably Red Bull and McLaren are ahead of them once more. Ferrari might take a little longer but they sure too will get there.

  2. What i don’t understand is how they are so competitive in the dry if they lack downforce and rear stability. Is their dry pace purely down to having Mercedes power?

    1. Basically, yes. McLaren are in a similar situation. Red Bull and Ferrari have superior downforce to both of them, which wins out in the wet. But Williams and McLaren have a superior power unit, which wins out in the dry.

      1. @jonathan189 In that case, how do you explain Force India who has the same power unit as Williams, but is faster than Williams in the wet and slower than them in the dry?

        1. Maybe the completely different gearing FI chose, especially compared to Williams is a factor there @rojov123

          1. @bascb
            Would FI be faster than Williams in places like Monaco/Singapore/ etc then?

        2. Another factor could be the brake-by-wire system. If the drivers are struggling to keep the car stable under braking, that’s going to be a more serious problem in the wet.

  3. Awful strategy. What on earth was Bottas doing on intermediates? If everyone else is on wets, then that’s probably a hint that you’re doing something wrong.

    I just hope it’s dry tomorrow.

    1. I really don’t think it would have made a difference.

      The car’s really not all that in wet conditions, but i’m sure we’ll see plenty of overtakes with Massa and Bottas carving their way through the field, particularly on the straights (as long as it’s dry, of course).

  4. Funny how Williams went from being the clear nr2 team in pre-season testing, to now being nr5 after Merc, RBR, Ferrari and Mclaren.

  5. Steph (@stephanief1990)
    29th March 2014, 15:36

    Been there, done that with Massa. I remember 08 and pleading with the clouds not to rain and it always rained and the Ferrari was a dog in the wet. Now same situation with Massa just different car. It is a real problems for Williams though as they could be vulnerable in the development race; they need to bag as many points as they can early.

    1. U do realize Massa out qualified Bottas? It’s not Massa who was slow, it was the car.

  6. I fear that these grid penalties and the FW36’s struggles in wet conditions are styming Williams’ promising season already, the likes of McLaren, Ferrari and Red Bull will inevitably catchup because of the bigger resources that allow their in-season development to be stronger and faster than Williams.

    Thus needing to pick up as many points as possible at this stage is imperative, but using their pace advantage at the moment to come through the field is not ideal. Hopefully in Bahrain, where it should be dry, they can finally qualify further up and race in positions where the car should be on merit.

    1. Some big straights, too, which will surely help.

  7. I’m enjoying the drama of these wet qualifying sessions, and the rain does make the stupid rule go away about starting on qualifying tyres.
    But it won’t rain at all 19 races – surely not… there’s no point developing a car just for wet weather. And it’s only qualifying after all, so I’m sure we’ll see a guy in a Martini suit spraying champagne before long.

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