Valtteri Bottas’s Austrian Grand Prix was hindered by “reasonably big” brake problems, according to Williams Formula 1 performance chief Rob Smedley.
The Finn spent much of the race chasing the Force India of Nico Hulkenberg in the battle for fifth place and as a result his brakes overheated and required nursing to the end. While Felipe Massa scored Williams’ second successive podium and the Brazilian’s first of the season, Bottas finished fifth.
“He was having to lift and coast for most of the second half of the race, really,” said Smedley. “Following Hulkenberg so closely for a large proportion of the race – getting on for 30 laps or something – got the temperature of the brakes up. That then put us into oxidization, which means the wear accelerates quite a lot, so he was having to coast to make sure that we got to the end with enough brakes.
“On a cooler track temperature when you lift and coast the temperatures come down on the tires so you have a double whammy effect in that you start to lose some grip as well.”
Bottas added: “I had to coast down a little bit to slow the speed so I didn’t brake at the maximum speed. I had to brake a little bit softer and not as late as I would have wanted.”
WILLIAMS TAKING ITS OPPORTUNITIES
Massa produced his best result since last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with third behind the two Mercedes in Austria.
Although Smedley conceded it was partly down to good fortune courtesy of a slow stop from Ferrari for Sebastian Vettel, he said Williams proved it was strong enough to capitalize.
“It’d be futile of me to say that we didn’t get that podium by some good fortune as well, but you make your own luck and on Sunday we made our own luck,” he said. “Once we got ourselves into a position then we were able to hold onto it.
“I think that shows the mettle of the team now and how far it’s moved on in that we were just operating very well to keep what was a faster car behind us. That’s the third occasion this year that we’ve been able to do that, so it pretty much shows that when we get ourselves into a position, we’re ready to capitalize and we don’t let go of it.”