When the umbrellas went up in the paddock at the Shanghai International Circuit on Saturday morning, the Williams team members must have been left wondering which weather god they had annoyed.
The FW36 car has been superb in the dry, but struggled greatly in the wet. Lo and behold: four races, three wet qualifying sessions. Another Q2 exit appeared to be on the cards.
But no. The team finally appears to have conquered its wet weather problems as Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas qualified in sixth and seventh place respectively for the Chinese Grand Prix today. Both drivers ran well in the tricky conditions to ease into the final part of qualifying, and once again their parity was clear as just one-tenth of a second separated the two of them.
“Today was a difficult day for us, as the weather was tough, but we got the most of out of it and showed that we have improved in the wet,” Massa explained. “It’s good to see forward steps. Tomorrow could be an interesting day as we are more competitive in the dry; it could make for a good race.”
Valtteri Bottas was also buoyed by the result in the wet, saying: “Today was a positive day for us as it’s clear we have made some improvements in the wet. The updates we brought here have helped in the dry but it’s good to see they have improved the car’s performance in the wet as well.
“It’s the right direction and it’s the result of a lot of hard work from the guys.”
However, the team will still be hoping for a dry race tomorrow in China. The pace of the FW36 means that Williams is certainly capable of a podium finish. The team nearly achieved this in Bahrain, only for the safety car period to ruin the races of both Massa and Bottas.
Despite all of this bad luck so far in 2014, the team is still lightyears ahead of where it was in 2013 when just five points were scored between two cars in nineteen races.