• Austrian GP - Race

Beating Mercedes was impossible - Smedley

ESPN Staff
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Rob Smedley says he is happy with third and fourth in Austria because Williams knew it risked a double retirement if it tried to challenge Mercedes for victory.

Williams locked out the front row in qualifying at the Red Bull Ring as Mercedes failed to maximise its slight advantage on Saturday, raising hopes of the team's first victory since 2012. But while running first and second at the opening round of stops Williams did not immediately cover off the Mercedes drivers, which ultimately allowed Nico Rosberg to take the lead and saw its chances of victory slip away.

Lewis Hamilton then got by Valtteri Bottas at the second round of stops but Smedley says Williams knew it had to avoid the temptation of getting sucked into a fight for the win.

"It very quickly became obvious in the first stint that we weren't going to drop them in any way, shape or form, in fact it was the opposite, they were crowding us all the way," said Smedley, Williams' Head of Vehicle Performance. "If we reacted to their first pit stop and did what Nico did at least we wouldn't have got to the end of the race, the tyre wear was that close. I'm reasonably happy with what we did.

"Racers wouldn't be competitive people if you didn't feel a slight twinge of disappointment but you have got to look at the positives. I think we were beaten by a faster car and a better organised team, so hats off to them because they did a better job than us, there's no doubt about that."

Smedley thinks Mercedes was performing below its usual standards for most of the weekend and that the race between the two teams was not actually not as close as it appeared.

"[Our race] was about consolidating and making sure we got the third and the fourth place and we didn't try and do anything silly trying to race with Mercedes and finish fifth and sixth or even worse. You have to be very sensible about things. In hindsight could we have done a different strategy? I'm not sure we could have done it very differently to be honest.

"If Mercedes didn't have problems they would have qualified in front, they had about three tenths on us, and in the race they had slightly more and also slightly longer tyre life. Don't forget that, yes Mercedes had problems, but I don't think they used their full pace, once they got ahead they were quite happy just bringing it home until the end."