Nico Rosberg has contended that Williams deserved more than fifth place in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone at the weekend, claiming that Rubens Barrichello's poor mid-race pace cost the former multiple world champions a better result – even though fifth matched his highest finish of the campaign to-date.
The team's home race marked only the second time this year that both FW31s had qualified inside the top ten on the starting grid, with Kazuki Nakajima a career-high fifth and the consistent Rosberg seventh, maintaining the young German's unbroken run of Q3 appearances in 2009.
On Sunday, however, the tables turned, with a short first stint for the Japanese ace costing him dear, as despite a bright start that moved him up to fourth, the 24-year-old seemed to lose out at every passing pit-stop, eventually falling away to a crushingly disappointing eleventh at the chequered flag.
Rosberg, by contrast, enjoyed an excellent afternoon, making a strong getaway to gain a position to sixth, and thereafter taking the fight to Barrichello in the middle stages, harrying the Brazilian energetically for third before an early second pit-stop unfortunately saw him cede a place to Ferrari's Felipe Massa. Had he not lost the time behind the Brawn GP, the inaugural GP2 Series Champion reckoned, the outcome could have been even better – and the third-fastest lap time of the race tended to confirm his belief.
“I am very pleased for the whole team, and for myself, that we had another good race,” affirmed the 23-year-old after consolidating his seventh spot in the drivers' title chase. “We still didn't get the result that we are capable of, but Barrichello was slow in the middle stint and I was stuck behind him which cost me the place to Massa.
“If that hadn't happened, we would have had a solid fourth place. I have to say a big well done to the team, because everyone is doing a really great job and we are moving ahead in terms of development. We are consistent at every track, so I'm looking forward to the races to come.”
“That result was not ideal for me,” countered the downcast Nakajima. “There weren't any particular reasons for it. I was pleased with my start and I thought it was going to be a good race for me, but I was held up by the car in front before my first stop and then it was difficult to keep up with the cars ahead of me for the rest of the race.”
Nonetheless, the four points notched up by Rosberg have moved Williams past McLaren-Mercedes into fifth in the constructors' standings, and technical director Sam Michael recognised that the encouraging performance proved that unlike in previous seasons, the Grove-based outfit at last seems to be keeping up with the development pace of its rivals and punching above its weight.
“It was great for the team to pick up more points with Nico's fifth place,” summarised the softly-spoken Australian, “and it shows we're still heading in the right direction with development. Nico drove well; it was just a shame he was caught up in traffic for the majority of the race, as I think he could have done more. He showed that he was quick by setting the third fastest lap time in the race, behind only the two Red Bulls.
“With his strategy, it was always going to be difficult for Kazuki to score points, but he is definitely improving and he really helped the team with set-up direction this weekend.”