What if Bottas was still in the Williams?

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    Ben Needham

    I know must of us hate “what if” posts, but bear with me…

    I’ve been thinking about the season so far and remembered just how underwhelmed I was by the Williams line-up when it was announced. It’s fair to say that Lance Stroll has disappointed so far, but Felipe Massa has managed to get some strong points on occassion. This made me wonder how the team would be doing if they still had Valterri Bottas in the other car.

    Being the F1Fanatic I am, I ran some data for last year and found that (circumstances aside), Bottas was on average 0.286 seconds faster than Massa in qualifying (times taken from the last session they were both in) and 9.749 seconds faster than Massa in races which they both finished on the lead lap.

    If we assume that Massa has got neither better nor worse, then it’s interesting to look at where the two Williams would have been this season with last year’s line-up.

    Actual Qualifying: P7 / P19
    Adjusted Qualifying: P7 / P8
    Actual Race: P6 / Ret
    Adjusted Race: P6 / Ret

    It’s interesting to note that qualifying would have left Williams as solidly the fourth quickest team, but the car qualifying in P7 would have retired with brake issues.

    Actual Qualifying: P6 / P10
    Adjusted Qualifying: P6 / P7
    Actual Race: P14 / Ret
    Adjusted Race: P14 / P15

    It’s difficult to tell here as both cars hit trouble in the race, but let’s assume Bottas wouldn’t have had the crash that Stroll did. From P6 on the grid, Bottas likely would have taken points, but the average adjustion leaves him just ahead of Massa in P14. No points here!

    Actual Qualifying: P8 / P12
    Adjusted Qualifying: P7 / P9
    Actual Race: P6 / Ret
    Adjusted Race: P6 / P7

    In qualifying, Bottas would have nipped ahead of Hulkenberg to take P7, pushing Massa to P9. In the race the two Williams would be best of the rest in P6 and P7, their first double points of the year.

    Actual Qualifying: P6 / P12
    Adjusted Qualifying: P5 / P7
    Actual Race: P9 / P11
    Adjusted Race: P7 / P10

    Here Bottas would have jumped Ricciardo to take a solid fifth on the grid, with Massa two places down on him. There were more good points on offer here, with 7 being scored instead of the real life 2.

    Actual Qualifying: P9 / P18
    Adjusted Qualifying: P7 / P10
    Actual Race: P13 / P16
    Adjusted Race: P13 / P14

    A poor race for Massa means we can’t be sure of the result here, but another good qualifying should have meant more points.

    Actual Qualifying: P15 / P18
    Adjusted Qualifying: P15 / P16
    Actual Race: P9 / Ret
    Adjusted Race: P9 / Ret

    It’s slightly lucky that Stroll’s car retired with a technical issue as the late Safety Car means my formula would have placed Bottas far higher than he should have been here (P6).

    The reality of all this is interesting – it shows that even with Bottas in the car instead of Stroll, the team probably wouldn’t be any further up in the Constructor’s standings at this point in the year. Granted they’d likely have a few extra points, but still not looking likely to overhaul their nearest rivals.

    Of course this should be taken with a pinch of salt, but perhaps it justifies the decision to have Stroll and his money at this point in the year… whether it’s still the case in 10 races time remains to be seen.


    If we assume that Massa has got neither better nor worse, then it’s interesting to look at where the two Williams would have been this season with last year’s line-up.

    This is the key assumption here. We can never know for sure, but supposedly Felipe is much more suited to this year’s cars than those of more recent years. The cars, and in particular the tyres, are supposed to drive more similarly to the 2008 cars when he was on top of his game.

    Like I said though, without putting Bottas back in the Williams we can’t really be sure whether or not Felipe has “got better”.

    Source: http://www.motorsport.com/f1/news/massa-s-style-perfect-for-f1-2017-cars-smedley-881374/

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