Qualifying Malaysian GP report: Williams Mercedes
Felipe Massa qualified 13th and Valtteri Bottas 15th for tomorrow’s Malaysian Grand Prix in a rain affected qualifying session. Both cars struggled for rear grip in the wet conditions. The team will be hoping for better conditions tomorrow so that the FW36’s better long run pace in the dry can be used to good effect to secure points for both cars.
Rod Nelson, Chief Test & Support Engineer
On the whole it was a disappointing day for us. In Q2 Valtteri was keen to start on intermediates and Felipe felt that the wet tyre would be the best choice. They were both reporting a lack of grip and rear instability as the rain continued to fall, and switched tyres to try and improve but were not able to find the sort of lap time needed to progress into Q3. The car is clearly struggling in wet conditions compared to the competitive pace it has been showing in the dry, so this is something we will be analysing closely. The conditions here in Malaysia are so changeable that we will have to prepare for the possibility of rain again tomorrow, but obviously drier conditions will be beneficial in allowing us to make our way through the pack in a similar vein to what we managed to do in Australia.
In dry conditions we are normally fighting for a top six position and the car feels good, but when it is wet the car lacks grip and can feel unstable with lots of sliding which is something we need to address. It’s a shame as this qualifying result is not really reflective of where we should be. The good thing is that the cars seem to be very close in terms of lap time so that will help us overtake tomorrow, and I’m hoping that we have very different weather conditions as the car feels completely different in the dry.
It was a difficult qualifying session for us today and it was very reminiscent of our qualifying in Melbourne. The more water there was on track the more we struggled with the rear grip of the car. We tried both the intermediates and the wets but we just couldn’t get the grip we needed from either tyre. The wet conditions highlight where our weaknesses are, so we have a clear direction for where we need to improve the car. I still think we have a chance of fighting for some points though if we have a dry race.
NB: Valtteri Bottas has been given a three-place grid penalty for the Malaysian Grand Prix for impeding Daniel Ricciardo in qualifying. The penalty will drop Bottas from 15th to 18th on the grid.