Massa column: Bahrain confirmed we're best of the rest
By: Felipe Massa, Driver columnist
https://www.motorsport.com/f1/news/mass ... st-895727/
In his latest Motorsport.com column, Felipe Massa says the Bahrain Grand Prix confirmed Williams' status as best of the rest in F1 - and further clarifies the situation with Max Verstappen.
I think I can sum up the Bahrain Grand Prix as a good weekend for Williams Martini Racing. At the end of the race, I had the feeling that we had done the best we could throughout the weekend.
Since the free practice sessions, the feeling with the car was very good, even in the considerable heat we faced in FP1. The positive results also came from the race simulation we completed in FP2, and after the long-run I realised that we had some good chances in Sunday's race.
Saturday’s performance confirmed those feelings – including the one that Renault currently has a very good performance in qualifying. In China, I had been able to get in front of Nico Hulkenberg at the last minute, but in Bahrain he came out on top of our battle.
However, after a good start, I was able to get past the Renault and our race pace proved to be competitive – although not enough to fight with Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.
Even so, there were two times I was fighting with Kimi Raikkonen and I enjoyed it a lot. In the end, though, when the tyres started to degrade, we saw the difference between us and the top three teams.
Finishing sixth was an important achievement, as it confirmed again that we are best of the rest behind the top three teams. But the other good news from the Sakhir weekend was the absence of the problems that hurt my race in China. I am also pretty confident that we won’t suffer a repeat of those when we return to low-temperature conditions.
One other big positive – and one I want to thank the team for – is that our pitstops remain the class of the field. Even in Bahrain, as we were in Melbourne and in China, we were the fastest with our tyre changes – which confirms the great work done by everyone at Grove over the winter months.
After the race, all the teams and many drivers stayed at Sakhir for the in-season test, as the development war begins to ramp up. I do not think that Williams will lose ground on this front.
Everyone in the team, from me to Paddy Lowe and all the aerodynamicists, we are focused on bringing forward a development programme different to that of 2016. In Bahrain we tried some things which worked well, and there will also be further developments in Sochi and Barcelona.
We will see during the year if there's a chance to give a little annoyance to the top teams, but in the meantime I think it's already very good to see that Formula 1 has again got two teams fighting for victory. It is something we got used to seeing for many years.
When there is the unpredictability about the result, the audience is passionate about things a lot more. And it would be even more interesting if there were more teams fighting for the victory. We hope that can happen in the future…
Verstappen situation sorted
Before we get to Sochi, also, I want to send a greeting to Max Verstappen.
During the Sakhir weekend things got a bit intense between us after he made some comments. But then we talked and got things sorted.
He is a good guy and a great driver – and I’m sure that many Brazilian fans will support him at Interlagos later this year after the great race he gave us in 2016.