Valtteri Bottas maximizing potential of FW35 car

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Starting P15 may not be ideal for any driver, but Valtteri Bottas believes that he did all he could in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The Williams rookie squeezed through Q1 after setting the exact same time as his teammate Pastor Maldonado, but Bottas went through after he crossed the line earlier in the session. He admitted that he was fortunate to make it through.

“I had a bit of traffic in Q1 so I was quite lucky to get through given that one or two tenths can be the difference between progressing to Q2 or not,” Bottas said in a team statement.

“I put a good lap together in Q2, the best lap I’ve driven here this weekend, so I’m pleased about that.”

The Williams FW35 has proved troublesome for the team in 2013, with the team yet to score any points, but Bottas is fired up for the race tomorrow.

“I feel I got everything out of the car today but tomorrow will be a long race in these conditions, so I will be ready to challenge right from the start.”

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Williams will be disappointed to have not got both cars into Q2 at any race so far this season, and with his teammate outqualifying him here, the pressure may be on Pastor Maldonado upon Formula One’s return to the site of his first grand prix victory at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.