Valtteri Bottas targeting first F1 podium in Canada after strong Williams qualifying
"Now we know it's really different," declares fourth-placed Finn
By James Galloway in Montreal. Last Updated: 08/06/14 11:46am
Valtteri Bottas is confident there will be no repeat of his slide down the Canadian GP order from last year as revitalised Williams aim to take the scalp of World Champions Red Bull in Sunday's race.
In an impressive showing amid sweltering track conditions on Saturday, Williams emerged as the closest challengers to runaway Mercedes with their drivers at one stage looking poised to lock out the second row of the grid, before Sebastian Vettel pipped both with a superior final Q3 lap.
Still, Bottas's fourth place and Felipe Massa's fifth represent the former champion team's best combined grid result since the 2010 Brazilian GP, when Nico Hulkenberg took pole in the wet and Rubens Barrichello sixth, and their best in dry conditions for eight years.
Bottas's grid slot, meanwhile, is his second top-four starting berth in a row in Canada, but whereas 12 months ago the Finn qualified a stunning third in the wet only to slump to 14th on race day, he believes he can beat Vettel in the 2014 edition after losing out to the German by a mere 0.002 seconds in qualifying after failing to improve on his final lap.
"[I had] a bit more traffic in the out lap than the other runs and that compromised my front-tyre warm-up," the Finn told reporters on Saturday night. "We're still always on the edge to get the front to work on lap one and in the last run we didn't and I couldn't improve the time.
"It's still good as a team, the result is very good for tomorrow. We know it's a bit different to last year now going to the Sunday so we know that we can fight well.
"Last year we just didn't have the speed, we didn't have the raw pace. Now we know it's really different and we can fight for these positions."
Bottas, who said the team managed to improve the balance of his FW36 for qualifying after he finished six tenths adrift of Massa in Practice Three, is looking to immediately move into the podium positions by the first corner.
Should he achieve that then the former GP3 Champion feels the team have the pace to stay there, a result which would represent his first F1 career podium.
"The start is going to be important, especially the first initial jump, so all the clutch settings and the reaction will be important," Bottas added.
"Our target is to really try and get in front of Red Bull. If we can do that we should be able to keep them behind. So we're definitely going to fight with them, that's the target."
Team-mate Massa agrees that Williams have a "chance" of securing their first podium finish for two years after showing strong race pace on Friday amid a tightly-grouped chasing pack to Mercedes.
"I'm quite happy with the car we have, not happy with the position. It would have definitely been possible to be on third looking at the difference between everybody," the Brazilian reflected.
"I hope we can have a good pace tomorrow in the race. Yesterday was very good so I hope we can confirm [that] tomorrow."
Despite appearing to be the quicker Williams driver up until Q3, Massa's failure to beat Bottas in the final stage means the Brazilian veteran has curiously still yet to outqualify a team-mate in 11 attempts in Montreal. The 11-times grand prix winner has not finished on the podium in the race either, with his best result of fourth coming with Sauber in 2005.
Watch the Canadian GP live on Sky Sports F1, with coverage starting on Sunday at 6pm