Austrian GP: Williams insists race pace not compromised
|By Jonathan Noble||Saturday, June 21st 2014, 17:36 GMT|
The Williams Formula 1 team is adamant that it has not sacrificed its race pace after successfully locking out the front row at the Austrian Grand Prix.
Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas secured the top two slots on the grid at the Red Bull Ring after favourite Mercedes tripped up in the final qualifying session.
And although Nico Rosberg says his qualifying potential was held back by him having concentrated on a race set-up, Williams insists it has not compromised anything for Sunday.
Williams head of vehicle performance Rob Smedley said: "I think that the qualifying requirements and the race requirements, are two entirely different things - but if you get one right it doesn't mean you have to compromise the others.
"I don't believe at the minute we have compromised the race. If anything - according to what we know as a group of people - we have probably helped it a little bit.
"But we know that we do sometimes suffer with degradation and graining, as other teams do, so we have to try to get on top of it, and make sure in the race we are at least as good as the other people."
Smedley said that Williams was under no illusions that rival Mercedes still had the fastest cars, but reckons that his outfit was not that far behind in pace.
"If you look at the best sectors with no fuel, then Mercedes is around three tenths ahead," he said.
"It is fair to say we didn't have the quickest car today, but being three tenths off the quickest car, we are closing the gap.
"It is a circuit that suits us and that helps us, but there is no disgrace is saying that Williams, after eight races of the 2014 championship, are three tenths off Mercedes. I am reasonably happy with that."
TYRE MANAGEMENT KEY TO POLE
Smedley says the defining factor in its performance in Austria was having perfected its tyre management to ensure the super-softs were delivering from the start of the lap.
"The key to today's qualifying was to get the tyres in the right condition," he said. "We have been looking at certain ways of doing that, and how to make sure that the tyres are ready for the first timed lap.
"These are very high working range, hard tyres for an F1 car, which is the direction F1 has taken. It is not right, or wrong, it is a fact.
"We knew that coming here with the asphalt characteristics and the circuit layout, it would be key to get the first lap out of it, but also to make sure that they are ready for the first corner.
"That is the work we have done back at the factory, the work that we did at the factory and the work we have done until qualifying today."