MONTREAL (Reuters) - Williams have set Felipe Massa a target of beating at least one of the Red Bulls after an engine problem in qualifying left the Brazilian facing a battle from 15th on the Canadian Grand Prix starting grid.
Massa qualified 17th at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Saturday, while Finnish team mate Valtteri Bottas was a strong fourth, but penalties to Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel lifted him up the order.
“It was a fixing within the wastegate mechanism of the turbocharger that failed (for Massa),” said head of performance engineering Rob Smedley. “It will be changed for tomorrow.
“It meant in simple terms that he just didn’t have any power. It was very difficult to charge the battery as well with the hybrid system.”
Smedley said the part was being replaced for reliability reasons and would not incur any penalty.
Mercedes-powered Williams are third in the constructors’ championship but failed to score in the previous round in Monaco and are now only 29 points ahead of fourth-placed Red Bull.
“The hope is that he can get his car in front of the two Red Bull cars,” Smedley said. “The number one priority with him tomorrow is to make sure he outscores at least one of their cars to help us increase that gap.”
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, last year’s winner in Canada, starts ninth with Russian team mate Daniil Kvyat lining up in eighth place.
The Mercedes-powered cars have a clear performance advantage in Montreal, however, while former champions Red Bull have paid a high price already this season for reliability problems with their Renault units.
Editing by Tony Jimenez