Although he could not avoid the irony of improvement coming in a race that produced one of its weakest results for some time, Williams' Rob Smedley believed that the team exhibited its best operational organisation of the season in Singapore.
The Grove-based squad looked destined to get both cars into the top ten before Valtteri Bottas succumbed to the effects of a steering problem that exacerbated already marginal long-run tyre wear, but Smedley was full of praise for the way that Williams had approached the entire weekend, improving in all areas from Friday practice onwards.
“The reality of the situation, and I've said this from day one, is that we are operating much better, much more towards where we need to be,” said the Briton, who joined Williams from Ferrari early in the 2014 campaign, “If this team wants to win world championships, it has to operate better than anyone in the pit-lane….
“We saw that today with the people around us in the championship. We went in there with a plan and that plan was well-founded. We knew what to look for in the first stint, and we executed that plan and got ourselves ahead of people, in front of faster cars.”
Having been asked whether similar levels of operation could have brought about victories in Austria and Canada, where Williams appeared strongest all season, Smedley admitted that it would have been hard for anyone to stop Lewis Hamilton in the former, while both Bottas and Felipe Massa had problems – of different kinds – in Montreal.
“Getting in front of cars that are a couple of tenths faster than you, you can do by slick operation, but two seconds is a bit of an ask,” he said, referring to the pace of the Mercedes works cars this season.
The result in Singapore, where the FW36 hadn't been expected to shine, has given Smedley and Williams the confidence to look optimistically at the remaining five rounds.
“We're really getting on top of tyre management now, and I think that the tyre
management here really helped us immensely,” he explained, “You saw a huge example of that with the way Felipe - and Valtteri, even with a broken-down car - was able to manage tyres. You saw that we were able to extract probably above the car performance in qualifying via the tyre management that we do, so I am, personally, immensely pleased with all of the science and experience and the engineering that we put in there and I think that, going to Japan, that puts us in really good stead.
“Going to Russia, I think the compounds are reasonably conservative, but it will still stand us in really good stead, and we're also going to tracks now that have a much bigger power effect and much bigger drag sensitivities, so we're really, really optimistic.”
Williams also hasn't abandoned development of the FW36 knowing that bringing new developments to the car will not only benefit results this year, but should allow the team to get a head-start on 2015.
“in Japan, we've got a new aerodynamic package coming, and the great thing there is that we're operating as a whole performance group,” he confirmed, “While we've got quite a good upgrade coming for Japan, that hasn't taken away from anything that we're doing for next year. We're still operating hugely leanly and efficiently for what is going to be the most development we can for the 2015 car so, ultimately, there's optimism all around.”