Smedley – Solving Massa’s tyre degradation woes a priority

Smedley – Solving Massa’s tyre degradation woes a priority

Williams Head of Vehicle Performance Rob Smedley has vowed to solve the issues that blighted Felipe Massa’s Spanish Grand Prix.

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Massa, who had looked impressive in the early phase of the weekend, started just ninth on the grid after a mistake in qualifying, and slumped to a lowly 13th during Sunday’s race, despite having run as high as eighth early on, as he battled with severe tyre degradation.

In contrast, Massa’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas came home fifth, the Finn only conceding fourth place – where he had started – late in the race to a charging Sebastian Vettel, the German on fresher Pirelli tyres in the Red Bull.

As Smedley explained, focus in the Williams camp will now turn to solving Massa’s problems with tyre degradation ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix in two week’s time.

“We dropped out of the points with Felipe and we just have to look in to that,” said Smedley. “I said to the guys that it’s a priority now for the operations group – all the various analysis groups – to look in to what happened in his race and to ensure that we get to Monaco in the best shape.”

“Felipe has been incredibly quick over one lap all weekend, I think it’s fair to say probably a little bit quicker than Valtteri. That gap reduced in qualifying and it would have been that maybe Felipe was 0.1s in front – something like that – a small gap, but then we suffered with degradation; more degradation than we did with Valtteri.

“I can’t really give you more information than that because if I knew what the answer was we would have fixed it in the race and we didn’t. So we need to go away now, that’s why we’ve got more than 500 people at Williams.

“We need to go away and analyse and see exactly what happened, use all the skillsets that we have and understand from a fundamental point of view how one car was able to manage the tyres and go longer on them and – while we were doing a three-stop for tactical reasons as well, it wasn’t just for tyre degradation – with Felipe obviously we used the tyres a little bit more and he ended up with a lack of grip and struggling with the tyres.”

Aside from Massa’s struggles, Smedley applauded the work of his team in Spain, as the Grove-based outfit moved ahead of McLaren, into fifth in the constructors’ championship, courtesy of the 10 points scored by Valtteri Bottas for fifth.

“The cup is half full; well it’s more than half full it’s three quarters full,” he added. “We came here really waiting to see how much the upgrades were going to work and be successful.

“They’ve been ultimately very successful; a downforce track that is very, very difficult on the tyres and it’s not only downforce in qualifying, downforce becomes even more important in the race to look after tyres and reduce the degradation.

“I think you saw that the car worked very well. It was the third quickest so ultimately we are very, very pleased with that.”

Image courtesy of Williams F1 Team

Dan Paddock

Dan Paddock

Dan Paddock is an FIA accredited freelance motorsport and Formula 1 journalist and the recently appointed Grand Prix Editor of Richland F1. Dan joined the site in July of last year as a Staff Writer, fresh off the back of completing a master’s degree in journalism. He has since gone on to represent Richland F1 at the 2014 British Grand Prix, his debut in the Formula 1 paddock. Aside from Richland F1, Dan also writes for Rumble Strip News, as well as maintaing his own modest blog.