Valtteri Bottas continued his impressive start to the season for Williams with fifth during Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix, the Finn coming home the best of the rest behind the all-dominant Mercedes duo and the two Red Bull’s for his fifth consecutive points finish.
The Finn, who qualified fourth on Saturday, started the race well, moving past the sluggish Daniel Ricciardo on the run down to turn one, and then proceeded to hold the Red Bull man at bay until the opening stops, when the Australian took advantage of the undercut to jump the Williams.
Bottas spent the majority of the remainder of the race running in fourth, only dropping to fifth after Sebastian Vettel, with fresh tyres on the second of the Red Bull’s, passed him in the closing stages.
As the Finn explained, it had been a pleasing weekend overall for he and team in the Spain, despite dropping a position to Vettel late on in the race.
“Today we did our best,” he said. “The strategy was correct and the team did really well in the pitstops, I made no mistake on the track so we made the maximum of what was on offer and got some good points from it.
“It’s pleasing to be in the points and it equals my best ever result.
“It was a shame Vettel was so quick at the end, I tried to defend, but he had fresher tires,” explained the 24-year-old. “The atmosphere in the team is fantastic, we are all pushing forward and points feed that hunger.”
In stark contrast, Felipe Massa in the sister Williams had a race he could only describe as “a disaster.”
Starting ninth, following a mistake in qualifying, the Brazilian ran in the points in the early stages of the race, but slumped down to 13th behind the Force India’s and the McLaren’s by the time the race reached its conclusion, following a failed move to a three-stop strategy.
“It was a very difficult race,” said the 33-year-old. “I was in the traffic most of the race and was struggling with tyre degradation.
“I was struggling with the grip overall – it was much worse today than yesterday, and compared to the long run on Friday.
“Maybe it was something that changed for Valtteri in one direction and me the other.
“I don’t know, but it’s something we need to analyse because I was very competitive during the whole weekend and then suddenly everything changed just for the race.”
Despite a disappointing conclusion to what had promised to be a decent weekend following Friday’s running, Massa applauded the fact that Williams, courtesy of Bottas’ 10 points for fifth, have now moved into fifth in the constructors’ championship.
“Today we passed McLaren in the championship thanks to the race of Valtteri, and were more competitive than Force India, which is just 11 points in front,” added the Brazilian.
“We’re going in a good direction.”
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic