Williams’ head of performance engineering Rob Smedley is confident that the team can excel once again at the Austrian Grand Prix, one year on from its front-row lock out at the Red Bull Ring.
Austria was the site of the only non-Mercedes pole position of the 2014 season as Felipe Massa topped the qualifying session ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas.
Although Williams’ conservative strategy in the race caused its drivers to drop to third and fourth by the end of the race, it still went down as one of the biggest upsets of the season.
Heading into this weekend’s race in Spielberg, Smedley believes that Williams can challenge second-placed Ferrari for pace and vie for another podium finish.
“We are coming out of a race where we’ve shown great pace and good tire management so going into Austria we can be confident of aiming for the front again,” Smedley said.
“It’s a circuit that is very rewarding for power and drag and we know that our car is strong in these areas, so we’re confident. It’s a great little track out in the countryside, you get a lot of fans there who are big fans of Formula 1 which is always nice.
“Third is looking even more solid but we can’t take anything for granted and it isn’t just about third. We want to push on and try to close up to Ferrari. It’s a circuit where we can make points on them and that is our target.”
His sentiments were echoed by Massa, who made no secret of the importance of his pole position at the race in 2014.
“The circuit in Austria is a great track, very fast and really enjoyable to drive,” Massa said. “Our car is normally suited to this track and I will never forget my pole position last year.
“Hopefully this year we can have a repeat or at least something similar, as we are looking to build on the momentum we have following Canada.”
The Austrian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN from 7:30am ET on Sunday.