Williams’ campaign in 2013 may have been nothing short of disastrous, but the British team appears to be on the cusp of a revival after Valtteri Bottas produced a stunning display in qualifying meaning that P9 – a great result given the team’s recent form – was somewhat disappointing for the Finn.
Bottas had shown good pace during practice, and he managed to carry this over into qualifying to finish the first session as the quickest driver ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Esteban Gutierrez. Although getting into Q2 was nothing new for Bottas, he managed to sustain his pace throughout the second session, and even had the luxury of not going out for a second run such was his initial pace. The Finn eventually finished in fourth place, and was well poised to hassle the front-runners in the final session.
Unfortunately for Bottas, he failed to up his pace in Q3. He went out for an initial lap, but opted to pit and go for just one run at the very end of the session as the levels of grip improved. However, the Finn could not match his Q2 pace, going four-tenths slower and ending up P9 as a result. Although more was on offer for Bottas, he will be pleased to have scored his second top ten grid position of the season, after finishing third in the wet session ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix.
Things could not have been more different in the other Williams, though. Pastor Maldonado – who found out this week that he would not be racing for the team next year – finished a lowly P18. Although his first run was compromised by Esteban Gutierrez, with the Sauber forcing Maldonado to take evasive action, the Venezuelan driver failed to improve on his final lap and was eliminated in Q1 as a result. He did not mince his words after the session, inferring to the British media that the team had sabotaged his car and aided Valtteri Bottas, explaining the 1.5 second gap between them.
Nevertheless, the team will be hoping to get at least one car in the points tomorrow, and those hopes burn brightest with Bottas up in ninth place as the Finn goes in search of his first points in Formula One.