Rob Smedley has played down suggestions that poor tactics and bad luck had led to Williams dropping points it should have scored in what is fast becoming its most successful season for some time.
A 27-point haul at the Austrian Grand Prix was the Grove squad's best return of 2014, lifting it into fifth place in the constructors' standings, ahead of McLaren and just two points behind the equally surprising Force India, but there is a belief in the paddock that that placing could be a lot better had Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas been able to pick up higher finishes that, at times, appeared to be on offer.
Smedley, however, dismissed the suggestion, insisting that the team had performed a lot closer to its capabilities than some were making out.
“I'm not always fully in agreement that we haven't [taken the points we should have],” he claimed, “I think it was my first ever press conference, in Bahrain, when it was suggested that we were not getting all the points we should have been getting. But, if you look at the pace of the car, yes we've dropped some points, but I don't think we've dropped any more points than other people.
“I think that's something that has built up some momentum outside of the team, rather than inside the team, so I don't think [Austria's result] was any more or less important than it ever is. We come here thinking, if there's 27 points on the table, we want them. There's not always 27 points on the table for us, looking at it realistically, but [in Austria] there was and we went and got them. It was important - but it's always important.”
Williams appeared to be second only to the all-conquering Mercedes in terms of potential at the Red Bull Ring, and even out-qualified the Silver Arrows as Massa and Bottas secured the front row. Smedley was quick to point out that that achievement was an anomaly due to extenuating circumstances, but equally confirmed that the FW36 legitimately had the beating of the rest of the field after Bottas beat his team-mate to the final step of the podium.
“We were genuinely the second fastest car,” he maintained, “If you look at our pace in qualifying, you would have said then that we were the second fastest car. Mercedes, without problems, would have qualified in front of us. They had about three-tenths on us and, [in the race], they probably had a similar amount, if not more, plus slightly longer tyre life, so, of course, they were in a better position. But, if you look at where we were compared to the likes of Ferrari, we definitely had a little bit of pace on them - same with the Force Indias and Red Bull as well, although Red Bull didn't have a good weekend by their standards.”
Asked whether he would expect the turn of form to continue through the second half of the season, particularly at venues similar in nature to the Spielberg circuit, Smedley sounded confident with the team's home race, at Silverstone, next on the agenda.
“We have a very efficient car, with a lower drag level compared to our competitors, and [Austria] is quite an 'efficient' circuit, so that's a circuit that suits us with less drag,” he explained, “There's also a high power sensitivity there, so if we've got a powerful engine, that suits us as well. I don't think there's any magic...
“At Silverstone, the downforce sensitivity is a lot higher than [Austria] so, for every point of downforce you're missing against your competitors, that's more heavily penalised at Silverstone. The drag sensitivity is high at Silverstone, and power sensitivity is high, but I don't think there is anywhere we should fear, or be scared of circuits or circumstances. We can go everywhere and be positive. Some places will suit us more than others, but we shouldn't be scared of anywhere.”