Williams head of vehicle performance Rob Smedley insists a lack of pace and the nature of the track were to blame for their less than satisfactory display in Hungary
After three consecutive podium finishes through Valtteri Bottas, Williams took a step backwards at the Hungagoring with Felipe Massa finishing fifth and his Finnish team-mate seventh.
The team, though, raised a few eyebrows with their decision to put both their drivers on the medium compounds after the deployment of the second Safety Car. The tyres fell away a lot quicker than the softs and resulted in Massa and Bottas going backwards.
Smedley, though, says they were always going to be on the back foot in Budapest as the circuit didn’t suit the FW36.
When asked about Williams’ strategy, he replied: “I don’t think we dropped the ball. Absolutely, without a doubt, the main problem was the pace of the car.
“We’ve come out of the last four events where we had the second quickest car but, as I have often said, it can swap from being the second quickest car to the fifth quickest car quite easily. I think [on Saturday], in the hotter track temperatures, we went alright, and [on race day] the track cooled down by 18-20 degrees and we couldn’t get any pace out of the car. We need to go away and understand our tyre management in these conditions, on this type of asphalt surface, micro/macro roughness, these compounds, these working ranges and how we ran the car in today’s conditions to see where we can do it better next time.
“Certainly, we didn’t do a great job, that’s absolutely clear, but I don’t think that what we tried to execute during the race was fundamentally flawed - we got both cars home in the points, but it just didn’t work out for us. From the outset, we were on the back foot with the pace, going backwards compared to the Red Bull and the Ferrari…”
However, Smedley concedes that maybe they didn’t get their strategy right.
“We expected other people to pit [under the second Safety Car], but only [Daniel] Ricciardo did and he fitted options,” Smedley added. “We fitted primes because we believed that, from there, the option wouldn’t be able to make it to the end of the race with just one more stop. From everything that we saw on Friday and everything in the data we took from other teams, we expected 16 laps from the option tyre, but I think the difference was, in these conditions, you could get that tyre working and therefore sliding around a little less, which extended the life of it massively.
“You can look back in hindsight and say that was the case and, at lap 21 of the race or whatever it was when the second Safety Car came out, we didn’t think we could do 25 laps on [each set of] option tyres. As it transpired, you could actually do much more than that…”