Massa quietly impresses en route to fifth in Australian GP

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Williams came away from Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix sitting third in the Formula 1 constructors’ championship after Felipe Massa enjoyed a quietly impressive race to fifth place at Albert Park.

Massa qualified sixth in Melbourne on Saturday before enduring a quiet but productive race that saw him make a two-stop strategy work well to P5 at the checkered flag.

Like many, Massa took advantage of the red flag stoppage on lap 19 to switch to the medium tire and opt for a lengthy second stint to the end of the race.

“It was a good race. To finish fifth, scoring some good points, is definitely a good start to the season,” Massa said.

“The red flag in the middle helped us to keep our strategy to one-stop and, thanks to that, we managed to overtake both Toro Rossos who had decided to go for different tires. That’s why I am happy with the result.”

Teammate Valtteri Bottas bounced back from a poor qualifying result on Saturday and a gearbox penalty to finish the race in eighth place, having started a eight positions further back.

“It has obviously been a very difficult week. The struggles we had with qualifying and then the grid penalty compromised the race,” Bottas said.

“It wasn’t the nice clean race we were hoping for, but we still have points from both of our cars. We are definitely aiming for better positions, and myself personally, so I am looking forward to Bahrain because I am sure we can do better than this weekend.”

Head of performance engineering Rob Smedley said that Williams could be pleased with its weekend in Melbourne, and has high hopes for future races.

“Australia is always a strange race. You come here and there are lots of unknowns with pace, in both qualifying and the race. You just want to make sure you get through it with a decent haul of points, and we have done that,” Smedley said.

“We can hold our heads reasonably high after that race. We made the right call in the pit lane under the red flag, fitting the medium tires and going to the end. That’s got us third in the championship now.

“Today we just got our heads down and did the job. Now we look forward to developing the car as we have some good upgrades coming.”