Monaco is notorious for it’s double-six nature. The unique characteristics of the circuit mean that the form guide can be thrown into the harbour and past results count for very little. While Red Bull and McLaren benefited, Williams were one team who struggled throughout the weekend. With Bottas falling out of qualifying at the Q1 stage and early contact spelling a Sunday afternoon of woe for Massa, the team left Monaco without a point to their name. Certainly not the type of performance that Williams have become accustomed to over the past 18 months.
“We need to make sure we learn because if we want to be a Championship-winning team, we can’t afford to have a race where we are nowhere,” a frustrated Valtteri Bottas told Autosport.
Finishing the race in fourteenth and fifteenth and being rather anonymous throughout, this weekend was Williams’ worst since their 2014 rejuvenation. They have maintained their third place in the constructors championship, but Red Bull’s haul of 22 points on Sunday has seen the gap to fourth shrink to 29 points. Considering that heading into Melbourne, Williams were widely regarded as the favourite to claim best-of-the-rest status behind the potent Mercedes outfit, such a weekend as Monaco was not on the road map.
Undoubtedly, the nature of the circuit was never going to suit them. Like its predecessor, the FW37 is a prominent player at the top of the speed trap standings – a trait which is surplus to requirements in Monte-Carlo. In addition, the car appears to lack mechanical grip, as poignantly demonstrated in qualifying when neither Bottas nor Massa could find the optimum tyre temperature, with the track surface at a cool 29 degrees. It is therefore, important not to take this weekend out of context – Williams are still likely to sit third in the current pecking order when the circus returns to a more representative circuit.
However, as Bottas has highlighted, Williams need to prevent a similarly dismal weekend from recurring if they are to achieve their ultimate aspiration of returning to the pedestal of World Champions. Barring remarkable circumstances, Mercedes are not about to face a pointless weekend. Even though circuits such as Spa and Monza were far from Red Bull friendly venues, the team never found themselves outside the top ten on outright pace during their title winning campaigns.
As such, there is plenty for Williams to work on following a challenging weekend. However, given the expertise and experience of those at Grove, I have no doubt that they will already be formulating solutions to Monaco’s problems.
Image Credit: "Felipe Massa Valtteri Bottas FW-37 Barcelona 2015" By crazylenny2 via Flickr [CC-BY-NC-2.0]