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Hungarian F1 Grand Prix: Williams ‘problem’ was pace, not tactics – Smedley

Williams did not make a mistake in fitting the medium Pirellis to both its cars midway through the Hungarian GP, insists the team's Rob Smedley.

Rob Smedley insists that Williams did not take its eye off the ball tactically at the Hungarian Grand Prix, despite questions being raised over its decision to fit the harder tyre at its second pit-stop.

Instead, the team's director of vehicle performance pointed to the FW36 not being entirely suited to the Hungaroring and being caught out by the significantly cooler temperatures of race for a result that saw Felipe Massa come home fifth and Valtteri Bottas eighth.

Bottas had qualified third fastest on Saturday, and vaulted straight into second spot by passing Sebastian Vettel around the outside of turn one on the opening lap, but was amongst the leading quartet that was already past pit entry when the first safety car came out, pitting a lap later than most and dropping him down the order as a result.

When a second safety car was called for to cover the clear-up of Sergio Perez's meeting with the pit-wall, Williams opted to fit the harder medium compound Pirelli to both its cars in the hope that they could go to the end of the race and gain an advantage over the majority, who had opted for the soft rubber, but the move didn't quite come off.

“I don't think we dropped the ball,” Smedley insisted in response to questions about the strategy, “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 today, 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....”

Admitting that the team could have set its cars up a little differently for the conditions, primarily in order to generate more tyre temperature, Smedley also conceded that Williams still needed – and was continuing - to sharpen its operations, but was getting better with each race. The decision to fit the medium tyre mid-race, he insists, was based on legitimate data.

“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…”

While Massa was able to move up from his sixth grid slot over the course of the 70 laps, Bottas was always fighting back from his first stop, and found himself once again battling Vettel heading into the closing stages.

“We knew that if we pitted Valtteri [with 17-18 laps to go], he would come out ninth and you kind of set yourself in stone for ninth,” Smedley reasoned, “He was running along in fifth position, with tyres in little bit worse condition than Felipe, and it was just a case that Sebastian was ten seconds behind with three-tenths a lap [in hand]. So he would have caught us towards the end of the race, but he didn't have enough pace [to pass] and, while we were sat there in that kind of lap time, we took the decision 'can the tyres make it?'.

“The telemetry was saying probably not, but you were going to miss it by five laps, so you may as well go for it at that point. When it became apparent that we'd hit the cliff with those tyres then, obviously, we had to bail out and fit the option. Valtteri went for it and got onto the back of Sebastian at the end, but just couldn't get past.”

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
27.07.2014- Race, Felipe Massa (BRA) Williams F1 Team FW36 leads Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR9
27.07.2014- Race, Felipe Massa (BRA) Williams F1 Team FW36 leads Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W05
27.07.2014- Race, Felipe Massa (BRA) Williams F1 Team FW36 leads Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari F14-T
04.04.2014- Free Practice 1, Rob Smedley (GBR) Williams Martini Racing Engineer
27.07.2014- Race, Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams F1 Team FW36 and Kevin Magnussen (DEN) McLaren Mercedes MP4-29
27.07.2014- Race, Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams F1 Team FW36 leads Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W05
30.04.2016 - Qualifying, 2nd position Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF16-H, Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid pole position and 3rd position Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams FW38
30.04.2016 - Qualifying, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid
30.04.2016 - Qualifying, Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Renault Sport F1 Team RS16
30.04.2016 - Qualifying, Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 VJM09
30.04.2016 - Qualifying, Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team VF-16
30.04.2016 - Qualifying, Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Haas F1 Team VF-16
30.04.2016 - Qualifying, Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sahara Force India F1 VJM09
30.04.2016 - Qualifying, Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Williams FW38
30.04.2016 - Qualifying, Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team VF-16
30.04.2016 - Qualifying, Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Renault Sport F1 Team RS16
30.04.2016 - Qualifying, Esteban Gutierrez (MEX) Haas F1 Team VF-16
30.04.2016 - Qualifying, Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Renault Sport F1 Team RS16

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July 31, 2014 3:47 PM
Last Edited 123 days ago

Rob Smedley... "Not the wrong strategy".... Come on mate it was the wrong call(s) firstly you did not need to use the other tyre. At Hungary the softer tyre is always quicker and by race day with all the GP2 and GP3 and Porsche rubber down it tends to survive as well. What happens on Friday in "green" practice at Hungary is not usually what the tyres show come race day. ( rain or no rain). Given it was a wet race. There was no need to run the harder slower tyre. No need to try to make the strategy go "Long" as by doing so you made both cars so slow they could not benefit from jumping traffic. Basically kids making strategy calls without the depth of years needed to do so. And as for Pat Simmons telling Sky Tv he always ran the quicker tyre always and then allow the team to do the opposite begs his Technical Director role big time ! Williams F1 a team with a great new Female leader and a Father who know more about F1 than most of the paddock put together are being let down a

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