9 September 2014
F1 Italian Grand Prix: Podium will help Massa rediscover ‘mojo’
Williams' Rob Smedley believes Felipe Massa's first podium for the team in Sunday's Italian Grand Prix can kick-start the Brazilian's 2014 F1 campaign.
Finishing third in the Italian Grand Prix will be good for both Felipe Massa and Williams, as the Grove-based team attempts to secure third spot in the F1 constructors' championship.
That is the view of head of vehicle performance Rob Smedley, who worked with Massa at Ferrari before rejoining the Brazilian at Williams for the 2014 season. While team new boy Valtteri Bottas has stolen the headlines this season, racking up four podium finishes in the five races between Austria and Belgium, Massa has struggled to match the Finn's results, despite the 2014 Williams being a more potent weapon than its recent predecessors.
In Italy, however, Massa had the upper hand, capitalising on a poor getaway for his team-mate to run third throughout behind the dominant Mercedes pair. While Bottas recovered from both his tardy getaway and a pit-stop that saw him emerge in traffic to finish fourth on the road, Massa was well up the road, and able to take his first podium as a Williams driver.
While Smedley insisted that he would have been equally happy to see Bottas join Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in soaking up the adulation of the crowd, he admitted that the result would have a bigger impact on the often fragile Brazilian.
“I was very happy to see him on podium again,” the Briton conceded, “I have no preference where they finish, but I think this was a result that he needed.
“He needed to get the car up there, and be fighting at the front, finishing at the front, because it's good, psychologically, for him. It's a great team result because we finished third and fourth, but Felipe got a podium out of it which is really good. It's really positive for him, and that's what we need.
“We need him to be positive, get his mojo back, and start scoring all the big points again. We need both cars there.”
Massa and Bottas began the Monza weekend by being confirmed as team-mates for 2015, and Smedley admitted that the combination had been a vital cog in Williams' 2014 resurgence.
“I don't know if it's the most harmonious pair [of drivers] I've ever worked with, but there's certainly a great deal of harmony within the team,” he noted, “They work very, very well together and we have to, as a team and a group of people, pay homage to that fact as it makes our life so much easier.
“They bring a great blend between them. They're both very, very quick racing drivers, but Valtteri is learning on the job, race-by-race, getting better, and Felipe brings a blend of speed and experience. He also brings a degree of calm to the team as well, which is good.
“He knows what he wants from the car and he knows the direction he wants to push the team in - as does Valtteri. They both do a really, really good job, but the way they work together is outstanding.”
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