Williams have been working flat-out at the factory to boost their reserves of parts after heavy shunts for both cars in Imola.
The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola was the very definition of bittersweet for Williams. Both cars made it into Q2 and points were very much within reach come Sunday, but instead all they had to take away from the race was a mammoth repair bill.
Nicholas Latifi wrecked his FW43B after first-lap contact with Nikita Mazepin left him in the wall, while George Russell was later involved in a high-speed collision when trying to overtake Valtteri Bottas.
“The result in Imola was disappointing and has required a big effort from the factory to recover our stock of parts,” said Williams’ head of vehicle performance Dave Robson ahead of the Portuguese Grand Prix.
“Fortunately, there were a lot of good things from the weekend too and we are now in Portugal looking forward to building on the progress made last time out.
“Portimão is an excellent circuit, fast and flowing with a lot of elevation change. With the final corner being very quick, the straight is long and fast, especially with DRS.
“The circuit had been recently resurfaced when we were here last year and that made conditions difficult for the tyres. Pirelli have brought the same compounds as last year – the hardest of their range – but the maturing of the tarmac should improve the overall performance.
“Last year we had a reasonably successful weekend and both drivers enjoyed the challenge of the circuit. We hope that the FW43B will work well here, allowing us to build on the performance that we showed in Imola.”
Latifi qualified a career-best P14 in Imola, taking his driving to a level we had not seen before in his Formula 1 career.
The Canadian racer is wary that Portimao may not suit the FW43B as well as Imola, but nonetheless is quietly optimistic.
“Whenever you’ve had a bad race it gives you more excitement and motivation going into the next one,” he said.
It gives us a chance to reset and start fresh, which is what I’m looking to do as we head to Portimão. This is a track that, maybe on paper, doesn’t suit our car as well as Imola, and it was a bit of a struggle in Portugal last year. However, I do feel that we’ve improved the car in certain areas, which was evident in Imola, so I’m curious and optimistic to see how we’ll fair this time around.
“Above all else I’m just hoping for a clean race.”
Russell apologised to Bottas after their Imola incident, while he also was the subject of some harsh public criticism from Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff.
But, the Brit now has the chance to reset at Portimao, a track that he “loves”.
“I love Portimão because the circuit is very flowing and undulating. The corner types also allow you to do very different lines as they’re quite wide on the entries, there’s not one specific line to drive to go around the corner fastest.
“That really helps for racing as at almost every corner you can take a different line to get out of the dirty air. You arrive through some corners flat out and blind, not being able to see what is 200 metres ahead, but I think that’s what adds to the thrill of the circuit. It’s a fantastic place and I can’t wait to go racing there again.”