Rob Smedley confident Williams have found solutions for Felipe Massa's recent troubles

Englishman optimistic Barcelona test proved breakthrough

By James Galloway.   Last Updated: 19/05/14 12:41pm

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Williams' new Head of Vehicle Performance Rob Smedley is confident Felipe Massa will be in stronger shape at this weekend's Monaco GP after the team made progress with the Brazilian's recent problems at the Barcelona test.

Despite outqualifying Valtteri Bottas at three of the five grands prix held so far this season, Massa trails his young Finnish team-mate by 22 points in the standings having scored just two seventh-place finishes for his new employers so far.

At the last race in Barcelona, Bottas qualified third and finished a season-best fifth in the race whereas Massa trailed home a lap down in 13th place after suffering with tyre degradation despite running on a three-stop strategy.

However, after analysing the Brazilian's problems and then working on solutions during Massa's day of running in the FW36 last Tuesday, Smedley says both Williams and the veteran driver himself are pleased with the improvements made.

"The last two results haven't been certainly what either we wanted from him or he wanted," Smedley, Massa's long-time engineer when the pair were at Ferrari, told Sky Sports Online. "Conversely, if you take the result before that in Bahrain, he was extremely quick all of the race and managed to look after his tyres better than Valtteri.

"For the last two rounds in China and Spain it's been different. We sat down after the [latter] race and my message to everybody was that we have to really start to dig deep and start to look at why that's happening. It's no good just to say 'oh, it's this and it's that' and be very remiss about our approach. My approach is to always go through and look at every single detail even if that wastes a little bit of time going down certain avenues.

"So we have come up with some very, very good analysis in a very short space of time. Luckily there was the test after the race in Barcelona so we were able to test some things could there, which worked. That just gives us all a great deal of confidence in our analysis methods and then going to test those methods in the track, it gives Felipe confidence that 'I had a problem in the last two races, the guys have got stuck in and they've come out with a bunch of things, we've tested that all in Spain and it's all worked'.

"So he's confident going into Monaco, we're confident in him and I'm certainly happy with that round of work."

Massa, a Monaco GP pole-sitter in 2008, lost likely strong results in Melbourne and Shanghai through incidents outside of his control and Williams' Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams said: "He's had a bit of bad luck really, China in the pitstop when he was on course for a really strong result.

"But he's pushing and he'll keep pushing. Valtteri's had a fantastic season so far and it's just a case of the team all working to get Felipe up to the same place."

Williams head into F1's showpiece week in fifth place - and ahead of McLaren - in the Constructors' Championship which represents their best placing at this stage of the season for six years.

Massa v Bottas so far

Qualifying head-to-head: Massa 3 Bottas 2.
Average qualy result: Massa 9th Bottas 8th.
Best qualy result: Massa 6th Bottas 4th.
Ahead in race when both cars finish: Massa 2 Bottas 2.
Best race result: Massa 7th (Malaysia & Bahrain) Bottas 5th (Australia & Spain).
Points: Massa 12 Bottas 34.
Championship placing: Massa 12th Bottas 7th.

The Monaco GP, F1's blue-riband event, is live only on Sky Sports F1. The channel's extensive coverage begins with Practice on Thursday May 22.

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