The Williams inter team driver battle in the championship standings has been to and from for much of the season. Following his 3rd place podium in Mexico, Valtteri Bottas has established a 9 point lead over Felipe Massa. Yet Massa is bullish about the upcoming Brazilian GP. “Your home Grand Prix is always the most important race for a driver. For me to race at home where I started my career – first on the other side of the wall at the kart track, then onto the race track – there is always a big expectation to perform in front of your home crowd. I love the track, it’s one of the best tracks for me and I’ve always had good results there”.
Despite winning the latest high speed wheel banging duel with Kimi Raikkonen, Valtteri is less confident than Massa, based on previous performances. “I haven’t had the best races in Brazil in the past, but I’m looking forward to fixing that. It’s a very nice circuit to drive, it has a good combination of different types of corners, and it’s good for racing with good possibilities for overtaking. The fans are very passionate and obviously with Felipe being Brazilian there is a lot of support for Williams Martini Racing. Hopefully this time around I can have a good result”.
The William’s is well suited to the layout in Sao Paulo, as the team’s head of performance Rob Smedley explains: “Brazil should be a good circuit for our cars – it was certainly good for us last year with Felipe on the podium at his home race, and we will look to repeat that. The layout is power and drag sensitive so the efficiency should work in our favour. The hard part will be getting the car to perform well in sector two. We want to get a good result and find ourselves in a position to celebrate securing third position on Sunday evening.”
Massa also believes a podium is possible for him, in a repeat of his 2014 result. ”Last year we managed to finish on the podium,” the Brazilian recalls. “It was a race with so many things happening – I had a five-second penalty and even stopped in the wrong garage – but we still managed to have an amazing race so it’s important to look back on what we did last year to try to repeat it and have a very strong weekend once again.”
So which of the William’s drivers is likely to come out on top come the chequered flag in Interlagos on Sunday? Well the form at this track of Bottas and Massa couldn’t be much further apart.
Since graduating from Sauber, Massa in his last 8 drives at Interlagos has 5 podium finishes; 2 wins,1 second and two third places. Bottas by comparison retired from his first F1 race here in 2013 and scraped into the points in tenth at the end of the 2014 race.
So even excluding the recent latent negative for Valtteri that is the ‘Raikkonen factor’, he may have his work cut out to beat his Brazilian team mate this weekend.