Williams plotting defensive Austria GP strategy

Felipe Massa will start from pole position for the first time since 2008

Felipe Massa will start from pole position for the first time since 2008

Rob Smedley believes Williams will have to play a defensive strategy to stand any chance of converting their front row lock out into a victory at the Austrian Grand Prix.

The Grove-based squad secured their first front row in qualifying since 2003 when Felipe Massa pipped team-mate Valtteri Bottas to pole with a last gasp effort on Saturday.

Williams has shown genuine front running pace this season but are yet to convert this into a podium finish. However, after a strong display in Canada, the team have emerged genuine contenders for honours in Austria this weekend, with the FW36 clearly the second fastest car behind Mercedes.

While Massa and Bottas starred in qualifying, Smedley, the team’s head of performance engineering, says he expects to deploy a defensive strategy to keep Mercedes behind and maximise an impressive qualifying effort.

Championship leader Nico Rosberg will start from third on the grid after his chances of securing pole were hampered by his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who brought out the yellow flags late in the session with a spin at Turn 2.

“This is just the start of the 71 laps though but we will start in the best position possible,” said Smedley.

“We need to think hard about how we maximise this in terms of points at the end of the race.

“On Sunday it will be hotter but we know from our long runs where the issues will be that we will face.

“It will be a defensive race as we try to keep everyone else behind us but for the team this is a much deserved result for all the hard work that has been put in both at the factory and race track.”

Williams last tasted victory when Pastor Maldonado produced a surprise drive to take out the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix, which is also the last time the team recorded a podium finish.


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