(© Ben Johnston 2015)
The Williams Martini Racing Team head into this weekend’s opening European race of the season at the Barcelona Circuit De Catalunya hoping that they can close the gap to Scuderia Ferrari. The Grove based outfit are currently in third place in the championship on 61 points.
Valtteri Bottas will be hoping to challenge at the front this weekend after missing the opening race of the season, the Australian Grand Prix in March as a result of a back injury.
Despite missing the Grand Prix the Finn is just one point behind team mate Felipe Massa in 6th place in the championship.
Last time out in Bahrain three weeks ago, Bottas finished the race in fourth place just behind Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team’s Nico Rosberg. Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix Bottas stated:
‘Barcelona is a track everyone knows really well as we’ve done plenty of laps there this season in testing. It's one of those tracks where if you are good in qualifying you can have a good race as overtaking isn’t that easy. I'm confident that we will have a good chance to fight for a strong position. We will be bringing some upgrades for the car as well, so it will be interesting to see if they work as expected. I imagine most teams will be bringing something new to the race and would have made good use of the three week gap and the circuits’ relative closeness to each teams factory. Being in Europe also eliminates the jet lag we experience so we can get a bit more training in before the race. I’m really looking forward to starting the European season.’
Felipe Massa heads into Sunday’s Grand Prix having finished the Bahrain Grand Prix in 10th place. The Brazilian is currently in fifth place in the championship, eleven points behind his former Ferrari team mate Kimi Raikkonen. Speaking ahead of the opening European race of the season Massa stated:
‘We've completed two weeks of testing in Barcelona over the winter so we know how our car can perform around the circuit and are probably more prepared for this race than any other race on the calendar. It's a nice track with a lot of fans in the grandstands and a great city on the doorstep. We have shown in the first few races that we have a good car and a few upgrades will be appearing in Spain that we need to make the most of if we are going to close the gap to the cars in front. It's good to be back in Europe and I hope we can start this part of the season with a strong result.’
The Spanish Grand Prix this weekend will see a return to the cockpit of the FW37 for Williams Martini Racing Team’s test driver Susie Wolff who take part in Free Practice One on Friday morning at the Barcelona Circuit De Catalunya. The Scottish driver last drove for the team during winter testing at the Montmelo circuit in February.
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, Williams Martini Racing Team’s Head of Performance Engineering Rob Smedley stated:
‘We’re heading into the European season after a reasonably successful campaign that has put us a solid third position in the championship. Our aim now is to keep moving forward and close the gap to the teams in front. Barcelona is a good measure of everyone's upgrade packages and shows how well teams have developed their cars. The circuit is an excellent test of a Formula One car with Turn Three offering a long, high speed test and sector three always being demanding on the car as it exposes its performance levels. We are heading into the weekend with a lot of confidence but there will be a lot of work to do leading up to qualifying as we learn about the new updated package.’
© Ben Johnston 2015