Given all the tyre pressure hype following Monza, a number of the sub-plots from the Italian GP have been ignored. One of those being the William’s team strategy.
Williams have been criticised for not making a better fist at defending track position previously, their response is generally that they were running their own race, according to their tyre wear limitations.
This was epitomised during the British GP, both the Martini sponsored cars were running at the head of the field with Hamilton and Rosberg’s Mercedes in third and fourth.
Yet during the course of the first pit stop, William’s chose to run to their race plan, rather than pre-empt an early Mercedes pit stop. The result being Lewis stopped first from the leading group, gained the undercut and took the lead of the race.
William’s attempt to cover this was in vain.
During the 2015 Italian GP, William’s again found both their drivers ahead of Rosberg’s Mercedes approaching the first round of pit stops. Once again, Williams failed to make a pre-emptive strike and Rosberg pitted immediately the 1 stop window opened on lap 18.
William’s made an attempt to cover this by pitting their lead car Felipe Massa on the next lap, but to no avail.
Rosberg was down the main straight at Monza whilst Felipe was still picking up speed exiting the pit lane.
Rosberg was 2 seconds behind Massa prior to the stop and 1.5 seconds ahead after it. the wait and see strategy failed again – though Pat Symonds has now revealed both Williams cars suffered difficulties with wheel nut removal, costing each about 1.4 seconds.
Valtteri Bottas ran 3 laps longer than Massa in Monza before making his first stop. And given that Rob Smedley has revealed more than once that Bottas is slightly easier on the tyres than Massa, the writing looked to be on the wall for the Brazilian driver – in terms of the battle looming towards the end of the race with his team mate.
The last lap battle between Massa and Bottas was epic – though the FOM TV director refused to return to fight – preferring to focus on extended shots of Lewis Hamilton, who had won at a canter and the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel, who came a distant and lonely second.
Last three laps from on-board Bottas car. Enjoy before FOM pull it down.
Felipe said after the race. “I started to lose performance on the rear tyres and he was catching me with better tyres as well. So, in the last three laps it was pretty difficult. He was catching me a lot, he was quicker than me. The only problem was the traction: he has better traction. So, I managed to fight, and getting to the podium was tough, three laps but I’m so happy for the position”.
Massa had done his duty – paid lip service to covering Rosberg’s pit stop and managed to hang on for his second podium of the year. And best of all it was in Monza, Italy – the home of the tifosi.
Yet had Rosberg’s engine not expired, none of this would have been possible. Williams refused to try the two stop strategy with either driver which would have given them track position ahead of Rosberg as they’d have most likely pitted between laps 12-14.
Maybe fourth and fifth was Williams best hope – even fifth and sixth had Raikkonen made a decent start.
Yet there’s still a perception that William’s are just too cautious in their race strategy. Others may suggest they are realistic of their capabilities and are carefully building a solid lead over Red Bull in the F1 constructor’s championship. The gap is now 75 points.
In the inter team driver battle – it is now close – and for those who believed Massa was washed up (mostly Ferrari fans).
Massa has two third place podiums, while Bottas has just the one from Canada. The drivers are equally matched with 5 race finishes each ahead of the other, though Massa has the edge on Bottas in qualifying 6-5.
However, Felipe Massa moved ahead of Kimi Raikkonen into fourth place in the driver standings, with Valtteri sandwiching the ‘iceman’ just six points behind.