Williams came close to causing an upset during qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix today as Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas threatened to snatch pole position away from Mercedes in the dying stages of Q3.
Having set an impressive pace during the first two parts of qualifying, Massa and Bottas moved to within 0.15 seconds of the Silver Arrows at the top of the timesheets with their initial Q3 runs.
The straight line speed of the FW36 has been superior to that of the Mercedes all season long, meaning that both Massa and Bottas had a serious chance of topping the Silver Arrows in qualifying as they wound up for their final runs.
However, it wasn’t to be. On their final laps, both Massa and Bottas were unable to improve their times, making small mistakes in the middle sector. The drivers opted to pit on their final flying laps as there was nothing to be gained by completing their times, allowing Nico Rosberg to claim his 10th pole position of the season for Mercedes.
Massa had been quicker than both of the Mercedes drivers through the first sector, but ultimately had to settle for third place on the grid. However, he was pleased with the result nevertheless, especially coming on home soil.
“[It’s] very emotional to be here in Brazil and have a competitive car, starting in the top three,” Massa said.
“I didn’t use everything I could from the car as I had traffic and a problem in my car on the last lap. I left at the last moment with a lot of traffic around so I couldn’t improve my lap and everyone was improving a little.”
Williams’ stranglehold on third place in the constructors’ championship is only set to tighten in Brazil, given that nearest rivals Ferrari could only qualifying eighth and tenth on Saturday at Interlagos.
You can watch the Brazilian Grand Prix live on CNBC and Live Extra from 10:30a ET tomorrow.