Williams defended its rookie driver Lance Stroll after a crash on Wednesday left the team’s participation in the final day of the test in doubt.
Stroll damaged his FW40 for the second time in as many days when he spun into a barrier on his 98th lap during today’s test.
The team is still investigating the extent of the damage from Stroll’s crash. Williams’ head of performance engineering Rob Smedley said “there’s a question mark” over whether they’ll run tomorrow “but obviously we’ll be doing our utmost to get out”.
Smedley said Stroll’s crash was related to a quirk of the new tyres which they had also observed with Felipe Massa on the first day of running.
“Both drivers have talked a lot about these tyres,” Smedley explained, “they’re good to lean on them, but there’s a certain point where they become very tricky.”
“Felipe lost the car on his first day because he kind of just stepped away from them having the amount of grip that these new tyres offer and then going into some area of the tyre where they’re no longer very happy. It’s just something they’re adapting to, Felipe found it quite tricky on day one. I’ve heard reports from other teams that drivers are pretty much reporting the same thing.”
“The feedback on today is Lance was out on cold medium tyres on an out lap, a lot of fuel in the car, and the tyre stepped away from him and he was an innocent victim of that happening. What should have been a fairly little, innocuous, sideways moment brought him around into the barrier and there was some damage. But that happens and we expect it to happen. There’s no blame on his part, obviously.”
Stroll shouldn’t feel he’s let the team down, Smedley stressed. “Otherwise we’re living in some terrible blame culture and we don’t want that.”
“I wouldn’t even call it a mistake that Lance made today, he was going for an up-shift, he was on cold tyres. Felipe once or twice on day one made almost exactly the same type of mistake and that’s a guy with 15 years’ experience.”
“It’s for us to try to understand how to re-balance the car, how to get the tyre working in tricky situations on those cold out-laps, to help the drivers in that situation.”
“Nobody stands back and says ‘that’s your bit and you’re to blame for that’, absolutely not, there’s not blame to apportion here at all. The main focus as usual is how did it happen, how do we stop it happening again and how do we contain the actions going forward.”
Williams used a private jet to bring a replacement front wing to the circuit in time for the start of testing today following Stroll’s smaller incident yesterday. Smedley praised the “super turnaround” by the team.
2017 F1 season
- Stripping Verstappen of 2017 US podium was “one of the toughest decisions” – steward
- Sepang pays Haas compensation for Grosjean’s 2017 crash
- Williams revenues rose in 2017 after Bottas deal with Mercedes
- New kerbs at COTA in response to Verstappen’s corner-cutting
- Australian Grand Prix cost government £56 million last year