Williams driver Valtteri Bottas has made no secret of his happiness after he secured fourth place on the grid for tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix during qualifying today.
The Finnish driver has finished in the top ten at every race so far this season, and currently leads experienced teammate Felipe Massa by 12 points. The team has certainly made a big step forwards after a tough 2013 that yielded just five points, but given the capability of the FW36 car, just one top five finish appears to have sold Bottas and Massa short.
However, today in Spain, Bottas proved that he is in the fight to score his first podium finish in Formula 1 this weekend by sticking his car on the second row of the grid.
“It has been quite a tough weekend up until now,” he explained. “I had to build a lot of confidence but it all came together when it mattered and I managed to get a good lap. We have made some set-up changes since FP3 and they worked well but it will be even better in the race.
“It’s difficult to overtake here and so qualifying is important. It’s going to be a close race behind the Mercedes and so I am really looking forward to tomorrow.”
Williams’ Head of Vehicle Performance Rob Smedley was also elated with the result. “I am very happy as the session went really well,” he said. “The pace of the cars was excellent. It is a hot track that demands a lot of downforce and the upgrades we brought here have really helped that. The pieces we have brought have worked really well.”
Massa could only qualify in ninth place on Saturday, but Smedley is confident that the Brazilian can make up for it in the race tomorrow.
“Felipe has qualified out of position as he was very fast in Q1 and Q2 but didn’t quite get the best final lap,” he explained. “There is a lot of work to do for tomorrow, but we are looking positive and are after some good points.”
The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya holds some fond recent memories for the team, having been the site of its last grand prix victory in 2012 courtesy of Pastor Maldonado. Although a win might not be on the cards this weekend, there’s certainly a chance that Bottas could follow the Mercedes drivers home on the podium.