April 21st, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - The season does not seem to be getting any better for the Williams team. Four races into 2013, Maldonado and Bottas have not yet had the pace to challenge for points. Maldonado finished 11th in the Bahrain Grand Prix, but he was 20 seconds behind tenth place and nowhere near quick enough to challenge for the final points-paying position.
2013 has seen the second worst start to a sesaon in the history of the Williams team. Only 2010 was worse, when the best finish by a Williams driver in the first four races was 13th for Rubens Barrichello. Williams went on to finish the 2009 season ninth (where they are now) in the Constructors' Championship with just 5 points.
In today's Bahrain Grand Prix, Williams decided to split their tyre strategy, with both drivers stopping three times but on different tyres to start the race - Maldonado started on the medium tyre while Bottas started on the hard tyre. Maldonado's strategy proved to be quicker, as he finished 15 seconds ahead of his team-mate. There was a period where Maldonado battled with the McLaren, Lotus, Mercedes and Ferrari drivers, but that was mostly due to Maldonado being out of position in the pitstop phase. Nonetheless, he fought hard, but was ultimately unable to keep pace with the top ten.
Williams now have three weeks to work on developments to the car ahead of the next race in Barcelona. They will be hoping to find significant amounts of time before the start of the European season, and to get their championship campaign going as quickly as possible.
The team had the following to say after the Bahrain Grand Prix:
Mike Coughlan, Technical Director: "Having seen our pace on Friday, we were expecting a better race performance than what we showed in qualifying, and that is what happened today. We planned three pitstops with both cars and our strategy worked as we had hoped. We nearly got into the points, and although some cars ahead had problems, we were still pushing to the chequered flag. Both cars would likely have been fighting each other again at the end, but Valtteri lost some time due to a problem during his pitstops. We now need to continue improving the car performance for the next races."
Pastor Maldonado: "Considering the problems we have been having, I think we got 100% out of the car today. We put everything together today, working well as a team and managing the tyres, and 11th was the maximum we could have achieved. We are really looking forward to the next race where we should see a step forward. We must stay together and positive. It’s a difficult time, but we still have many races to go."
Valtteri Bottas: "The race was really dominated by the rear tyres today. In the first two stints I was fighting with a lot of cars so it was difficult to look after the tyres and manage the pace. The last two stints were better as I had more clean air and managed to make up some ground on the cars ahead. We now need to keep on working to get some updates to help us in coming races."