Massa column: My regret over a race I could have won

There was a point in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix where I thought it was going to be one of the races that would be one of the most memorable of my career.

Instead, the outcome was merely that I was put on the list of non-finishers. So I left with zero points and a lot of regret for a race where there was the chance to seize a great result.

Throughout practice and qualifying I had a very good feeling about the pace of my Williams Martini Racing car. I was sure we would easily qualify in the top ten, and that was confirmed with the results.

What I could not have imagined at that point though that was I would eventually be in a position to win the grand prix. This possibility only came up during the red flag stoppage.

After a few laps of the race, I realised that I could start to hope for something more than just a points finish. I passed the two Force Indias and Kimi Raikkonen with ease, and I was running in third place behind Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel when the race was stopped.

I didn’t know at that point, of course, that they would both face unexpected problems, and I was certain after the red flag that they would disappear into the distance. But the idea of getting onto the podium was already something to be really happy with.

But when we got the okay to go back on the track, I immediately felt that something was not working well on the car. I hoped that it was something that could be fixed, but soon I realised it was a terminal mechanical failure. Once in the pits we were able to discover what the problem was: a shock absorber.

So my race ended with a lot of disappointment. But I watched the remaining laps from the garage with the team, as we celebrated my teammate Lance Stroll’s first podium in F1. Obviously I would have liked to be there on the podium myself, but I cannot fight the unexpected, and in the end I was happy for the whole team and Lance.

After he scored his first points in Canada, Lance’s confidence has increased and I am glad that he has decided to use my setup choices and adapt his driving style. He started using my settings on the first day and had the ability to adapt very well to things without making mistakes.

The first races of this season were tough for Lance, but I am really glad that the year has now taken a different direction after Montreal and Baku.

F1 obviously left Baku talking a long about the incidents in the race, and of course that moment between Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton. I saw the television images myself and, beyond the possibility that Lewis going slow may have been a bit unexpected for Sebastian, I was still a bit surprised by his reaction.

We are now working hard to prepare for the Austrian Grand Prix, and the Red Bull Ring is a track where Williams has always gone well at.

There should be some updates on the car, and I hope we can confirm our place of fighting for positions near the podium. I want to make amends for what I missed in the last two races where I was not able to get the reward for some very quick performances.