Rob Smedley says Williams took a risk during Q1 for the British Grand Prix because it was aiming to challenge for pole position.

Both Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas dropped out in the first part of qualifying having gone out too late on slick tyres in the closing minutes as rain started to fall. While Smedley admits Williams made a strategic mistake with its approach - having also been last out to do the first run on intermediate tyres - he said it was a result of chasing a front row grid slot.

"I don't think you can call it an unnecessary risk because if it comes off that's how you get on the front row, that's how you get pole positions, that's how you are able to keep the team pushing forward and to outscore your rivals in terms of points," Smedley said.

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Asked if the front row and pole positions had been what the team was targeting, Smedley replied: "Of course we were.

"That's what this team is now about, it's about achieving excellence and it's about aiming for the very top. Sometimes you're going to fall over doing it but it's exactly the same as what I said after Austria and after many races; you have to live through a little bit of pain and you have to make sure you come out the other side having learned about that pain and the mistakes that you made and how not to make them again. It's all a process and it's all about getting to a place where we want to be. Not tomorrow but in the medium and long term."

Explaining the Williams strategy, Smedley said it had timed its first run to try and only do one lap on intermediate tyres in expectation of more rain later in qualifying.

"Essentially, why did we go out late? We went out late because you never know what is going to happen. We didn't know that it was going to dry up towards the end of Q1. It started to look like that from early on in Q1 but we thought that if it started to rain again and people had to go out on inters then we wanted to be out kind of in the middle of the session and to be out there just to do one run.

"So we wanted to be out there in the middle of the session with the right fuel in the car, do one run and then have three new sets of intermediates for the rest of the session. Obviously that was with the information that we had at that time."