British Grand Prix 2015: Williams left frustrated at failure to build on flying start by Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas

 

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The Independent Online

Nothing could have been more popular than Lewis Hamilton’s third victory at Silverstone, but a lot of fans would have gone home happy if Sir Frank Williams’ team had beaten the Mercedes duo. And for the first 19 laps that seemed a possibility after Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas had blasted past the two Silver Arrows at the start to run first and second.

Bottas left a gap through which Hamilton could have driven the Mercedes truck on the opening lap, but regained second place when the world champion got the restart wrong, and many believe that had Williams let the Finn pass Massa he could have built a lead while his team-mate rode shotgun. In the end it was academic, because the Williams cars struggled when the rains came, but they made a race of it and the huge crowd loved it. As did Hamilton.

“It’s a frustrating result because the race was amazing today,” Massa said. “I had a fantastic start and we were fighting with Mercedes the whole time, it could even have been possible to win if it had stayed dry, which is great to see. It was a shame to lose positions in the rain. We waited one lap longer on the second stop which is where we lost the opportunity to be on the podium. That shower also highlighted the car’s weakness in the wet.”

 

Bottas added: “In some ways it was an incredibly frustrating race, and others it was very pleasing. We both had great starts and we raced the Mercedes with genuine pace, but when the rain came I really struggled with the intermediate tyres. I was allowed to race Felipe, but it was hard to get through, and I didn’t want to make any mistakes.”

On the face of it, Sebastian Vettel’s podium finish at Williams’ expense looked a bit of a gift, especially as he had been down in eighth place on the opening lap. But you make your own luck in racing, and while Ferrari got the stop for intermediate tyres wrong for Kimi Raikkonen, Vettel’s was perfect. And it did not happen by accident.

“It wasn’t a Christmas gift. Santa Claus wasn’t there waving me in,” Vettel said in his inimitable style. “It was my decision. Without the rain we would not be on the podium, but we kept our head down and were patient enough until the rain came down properly.

“We both made bad starts, came back to fifth and sixth places where we started, then there was some rain, but only at Luffield. So it was quicker to stay out, but it was a tough call to make. Then I came out of Chapel corner on to Hangar Straight, and suddenly there was a lot more rain. It was significantly more intense, no longer drizzle, so I said I was coming in. And I was happy when I was told the leader [Hamilton] had decided to pit as well.

“That’s England for you; rain, then a couple of laps later, sunshine.”

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