2 July 2014
Massa reaches 200 F1 starts at ‘old school’ Silverstone
F1 veteran Felipe Massa reaches a notable career milestone at one of the sport's most historic venues as Williams heads to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix.
Felipe Massa will celebrate his 200th grand prix start when he lines his Williams-Mercedes up on the Silverstone grid this weekend, and the Brazilian is confident that he can mark the occasion with another competitive run.
The veteran qualified on pole position for the last round of the 2014 championship, in Austria, and, with the FW36 expected to be equally at home a matter of miles from where it was built, is looking forward to a positive weekend as he reaches a major career milestone. While he has appeared at 201 grands prix, he failed to start either the controversial 2005 USGP or the fateful Hungarian event where he suffered life-threatening injuries in a freak qualifying accident, and is delighted to finally be racing up a double century this weekend.
“Silverstone will be a special race, not just because it is the team's home race, but also because I shall celebrate my 200th grand prix,” Massa confirmed, “British fans are passionate about F1 and it will be great to see the support for the team. It will be interesting to see if we can maintain the pace we had in Austria, but the main focus will be on getting some good points.”
Unsurprisingly, Massa is a fan of the Silverstone layout, and the Maggotts-Becketts complex in particular. The quick change of direction section is also of interest to those behind the scenes, as it provides a key set-up challenge as the team seeks a blend of good car balance and aerodynamic efficiency.
“Silverstone is a very interesting circuit,” head of vehicle performance Rob Smedley noted, “It is old-school in terms of spectators, as the layout allows the fans to get a good view, but it also poses a real challenge to the engineers and drivers as we have to set the cars up for such high-speed corners like Abbey, Copse and the Maggotts-Becketts complex.
“The car has to be set up differently from other high-speed circuits, but the layout has high power and drag sensitivity which should suit our car this season. The weather always plays a huge part in the weekend as it can change from session to session and, depending on the temperature, we can suffer from rear tyre graining. However, the hard tyre we have for the weekend could also suffer from low-temperature issues, so it is something which we will have to manage.”
As well as hosting the very first round of the world championship in 1950, Silverstone's history is also inextricably linked to Williams as, in 1979, the team scored its first grand prix victory there and, in 1997, Jacques Villeneuve racked up its 100th win at the same venue. For Valtteri Bottas, meanwhile, it's a chance to build on the podium finish – his first in F1 – that he claimed at the Red Bull Ring.
“I am really looking forward to Silverstone,” the Finn admitted, “It's always a great event and means a lot to us as it's the team's home grand prix, so hopefully some of the guys from the factory can come up and support us as well. We are aiming to be strong and to build on the momentum we have coming from Austria. We are hoping for a good result again, but will have to wait and see how the track suits us.”
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