It looked like Felipe Massa had the upper hand over teammate Valtteri Bottas all weekend, but the tables turned in the dying moments of Q3 as the latter took fourth place on the grid with Massa slipping back to ninth after a mistake.
The story was pretty much the same throughout the three free practice sessions: Massa was always just that little bit ahead of his teammate. While Valtteri was hanging around the margins of the top-10, Massa was usually in the top-six threatening the likes of the Ferraris.
Again, when qualifying came around, it was Massa who had the upper hand. He was nearly two tenths up on his teammate in Q1 and nearly six tenths up in Q2. When Q3 began, both Williams drivers waited until the last two minutes to put in one timed lap.
As it happened, Valtteri surprised everyone and put himself fourth on the grid, just behind the two Mercedes drivers and Daniel Ricciardo and just ahead of the impressive Grosjean.
Massa, however, made a mistake on his only timed lap and ended up ninth with a lap four tenths slower than his Q2 effort. A disappointing result considering the pace he showed throughout the weekend.
“I am disappointed with my lap today,” said Massa, “as I lost the rear in Turn 10 after braking. It’s nothing to do with the car, it was my mistake.”
Rob Smedley, Williams Head of Performance Engineering is confident, though, in the car’s potential, citing this weekend’s upgrades as having helped create the necessary downforce for the tough Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
“There is a lot of work to do for tomorrow,” said Smedley, “but we are looking positive and are after some good points.”
The battle for best-of-the-rest behind the Mercedes duo seems to have closed up since yesterday’s practice sessions. With Valtteri starting at the front, this could be one of the team’s best opportunities yet to take a long-awaited podium finish.
Images courtesy of Octane Photographic