Williams’ Valtteri Bottas has qualified third once again to round out the season in Abu Dhabi (7 a.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra). The Finn has now done so in four of the final five Grands Prix, and thus been in the top three in nine races this season.
Either Bottas or Felipe Massa could play spoiler to the Mercedes’ teammates respective World Championship hopes if either was to get between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton into second place.
“It was a nice quali. We got a really good lap in the end,” Bottas said. “It was not easy to beat them, so it’s good to be third and fourth again.”
Bottas, though, was doubtful that he or Massa will be able to get in-between the Mercedes, citing their pace advantage not just on one-lap pace, but long runs as well.
The Williams-Mercedes second row lockout is the team’s third straight and fourth in the last five races.
For Bottas, it’s about returning to the podium for the first time since Russia and moving back to fourth in the standings – a place he lost last race at Brazil due to belt issues affecting him during a pit stop.
He enters the weekend three points behind Sebastian Vettel in fourth and two behind Fernando Alonso in fifth. Provided Bottas finishes ahead of both of them in the points, he should return to that fourth place position in the championship.
Williams can’t catch Red Bull for second in the Constructor’s Championship and should hold onto third over Ferrari.
Williams holds a 44-point lead over Ferrari, and will retain third provided Ferrari doesn’t score at least 50 points via a third and fifth-place result, and Williams fails to score at all. It’s unlikely to happen but thanks to double points, it’s possible.
Bottas has five podium finishes this season and looks for his sixth Sunday evening.