British GP: Williams say they have no regrets at letting cars race

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer at Silverstone
Williams drivers Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas
Williams drivers Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas led the race until the first pit stops

Williams have no regrets about letting their drivers race despite failing to finish on the podium after a strong start to the British Grand Prix.

Valtteri Bottas was initially told not to pass team-mate Felipe Massa for the lead, only for Williams to allow him to try as long as it was a "clean move".

"They are free to race as long as they don't hold each other up," Williams head of performance Rob Smedley said.

"We were going back into the clutches of the Mercedes, we didn't want that."

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Massa finished fourth, with Bottas taking fifth despite both having looked in a strong position for a top-three finish early in the race.

The Brazilian had taken the lead at the start from third on the grid. Bottas then also passed Lewis Hamilton after the world champion made a mistake trying to pass Massa at a re-start following an early safety car period.

The team had a discussion with Bottas on the radio as the Finn was shaping up to pass Massa.

Bottas was initially told not to race Massa, but responded by saying he could pass on the Hangar Straight.

He was told he could try as long as it was a "clean move".

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The Finn attempted to overtake on a number of occasions but could not pass his team-mate.

Smedley said: "After a couple of laps when it had all calmed down we said 'it's absolutely fine, you are free to go racing again'.

Hamilton passed the Williams cars at the first pit stops but Massa and Bottas were still running second and third, ahead of the second Mercedes of Nico Rosberg, until rain hit late in the race, when they were passed by Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, who had been running fifth.

Felipe Massa
The Williams decision to wait an extra lap to change to wet weather tyres proved crucial

Hamilton and Vettel chose to come in for wet-weather tyres on lap 43, just as the rain was arriving, while Massa and Bottas waited for another lap.

"The middle sector of the lap when Lewis stopped was getting much quicker," Smedley said. "The rain was just hitting in the pit exit area on the pit straight and when it did hit Sebastian had 15 seconds more to make that decision. Our cars were just past the pit entry and then we had to do another lap like that.

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"So that was very disappointing that we didn't quite get that. Unfortunately with the positions our cars were in on the track, we were just a lap too late."

But he said Williams were still pleased by their progress at Silverstone, after both cars qualified ahead of the Ferraris and were faster until the rain hit in the race.

"The weekend on the whole for us has been really positive," Smedley said.

"It was the first weekend since the start of the season, even though we have been inching closer, when we have been clearly faster than our closest competitor, Ferrari.

"We were faster in qualifying and we had a similar pace advantage in the race in the dry so the thing we will take from that is it has been a really positive weekend. We were clearly the second quickest car."

Felipe Massa, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg
Felipe Massa had finished third in qualifying alongside team mate Valtteri Bottas in fourth