SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Brazilian Felipe Massa feels he has turned a corner after his first podium of the season in Italy last time out and is cautiously confident his Williams team can catch Red Bull in the constructors’ championship.
Massa, who joined Williams at the start of the season after eight years with Ferrari, finished an emotional third at Monza at the home race for his former team which helped his new side move above his old colleagues in the constructors’ race.
Williams are third in the standings on 177 points, 15 ahead of Ferrari and 95 behind Red Bull, with six rounds remaining starting with Sunday’s Singapore race under the lights at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
Mercedes are well out in front but Massa was optimistic of adding to his own personal 55 point haul and, with the help of in-form team mate Valtteri Bottas, continue to rack up the points for the resurgent Williams team who only managed five last season.
“We’re planning to close the gap in every race...to catch even Red Bull which is a bit far, but you’ll never know,” the Brazilian told Reuters on Wednesday.
”Everything can change pretty quickly in Formula One in two or three races. The situation is different. Maybe we have the opportunity to fight for the second place.
“I think the work and the job we are doing this year is going very well. So there’s still a lot to improve in the second part of the season and also next year.”
The twisting, demanding and lengthy street circuit in hot, humid and this week hazy Singapore will be one of the tougher races for Massa and Williams, though.
The team will have some upgrades on the car for this weekend but Massa acknowledged Monza was a high-speed track that suited them better.
“Monza was a fantastic race for us. We managed to finish on the podium, which was great,” he said of the race 10 days ago.
”We finished third and fourth. We managed to pass Ferrari in the constructors’ championship so going for third place, I think it was a very important race for us.
”It was fantastic to be back on the podium. I hope we can carry on being back on the podium for most of the races.
“I think it’s (Singapore) always a difficult race, a different track. Not the best track for us. I really expect we can be there, I really expect we can be competitive and I hope we can fight again for the podium.”
Williams head of vehicle performance Rob Smedley was also wary of the demands that the Singapore race would put on his team this week.
“The track has a few issues that we have to work around, such as the lack of grip that on a normal track would improve, but here doesn’t,” he said in a statement.
“This results in a lot of wheel spin and oversteer which affects the balance of the car. The main focus for the team is the constructors’ championship now and we have to establish ourselves in third position, which we regained from Ferrari in Monza.”
Editing by Amlan Chakraborty