Valtteri Bottas says Williams can finally make good on their potential in Bahrain
Finn equals his career-best with third on the grid
By Mike Wise in Manama. Last Updated: 06/04/14 7:24am
After Williams stuttered their way through the opening two races of the season, Valtteri Bottas reckons they can finally make good on their potential in Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix.
The Finn thinks a podium finish is on the cards after qualifying fourth at Sakhir - Bottas, however, moving up a place on the grid as a result of the penalty picked up in Malaysia by Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, who set the third fastest time.
He therefore equals his career-best grid slot, achieved in last year's Canadian GP, with the nudge forwards also a welcome bonus after Bottas himself incurred penalties - for a gearbox change and, ironically, impeding Ricciardo - in both Australia and Malaysia.
"I think it's a possibility. I mean, you never know what's going to happen in the race but we have the pace to fight for the podium. I think it's a fact Mercedes is too quick but we have a good chance to be best of the rest," said Bottas, who lines up behind the Silver Arrows of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton and ahead of Force India's Sergio Perez.
Although Williams featured prominently during pre-season testing, they flattered to deceive in both Melbourne and Sepang. The Grove team's Mercedes-powered FW36 has been quick in both races but less so in qualifying, which on both occasions was held in wet conditions.
"It's really nice to have a clean Saturday, with no rain and finally we got to qualify where the speed of the car was. I think the rain mixed it up; we needed a dry qualy to see where we are. Today we put everything together as a team, had a good lap and that was the result," said Bottas, who also denied the result was a surprise.
"No," he responded. "We saw even in the first race that, in the dry, the pace is good. We knew it was possible to be on the second row today."
Bottas, who was fifth in Australia and then eighth in Malaysia last weekend after a team orders row with Felipe Massa, said the straights on the 5.412km Bahrain International Circuit suit their car better than Sepang, which has more high-speed corners.
And the 24-year-old says he's in a completely different situation to that he faced in Montreal last June when, after excelling during a wet and windy qualifying session, Williams' lethargic FW35 revealed its true colours during the race.
"It's a good feeling to know that this qualifying position is true pace," Bottas enthused. "It's completely different to Canada, where we knew nearly everyone behind us was quicker. So now we know we can really race tomorrow and it's a nice feeling, because we're here to race for good positions."
With Massa lining up seventh on the grid, his team-mate added: "Tomorrow is a pretty good chance for us to get good points with both cars, so we really need to try and make the most out of it."