Felipe Massa believes that Williams can still fight with Ferrari at this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix as he goes in search of the team’s first podium finish of the season on Sunday.
Massa qualified in fourth place at the Shanghai International Circuit on Saturday, finishing just ahead of teammate Valtteri Bottas in Q3. Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel will line up alongside Massa on the second row of the grid tomorrow after qualifying third.
Throughout pre-season testing, Williams and Ferrari appeared to be closely matched in the race to be ‘best of the rest’ behind Mercedes.
However, when Vettel claimed a shock victory in Malaysia two weeks ago, it appeared that Williams had dropped far behind the Italian marque, leading to questions about the British team’s place in the pecking order.
Following qualifying in China on Saturday though, Massa believes that the team is well-placed to fight with Ferrari this weekend after finishing just three-tenths of a second behind Vettel.
“I am really happy with my lap,” Massa said. “I managed to get the best out of the car and showed we are still in the fight with Ferrari.
“The car has improved throughout the weekend and we had the set-up correct for qualifying. Tomorrow is when it really counts so I hope we can have a strong race and get the most points on offer from the car.”
Bottas also hopes that Williams can put up a good fight in the race tomorrow, believing that tire management will be crucial in Shanghai.
“We know we need to work on our race pace, but we should be closer than we were in the first two races,” Bottas said. “The cars in front look strong so we have to concentrate on tire degradation.”
Both Williams drivers will be hoping to stay ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari, after the Finn qualified in sixth place for the race on Sunday.
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo believes that he too could be in the fight for a top five position, setting the stage for a great battle between three or four drivers for the positions behind Mercedes.
The Chinese Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 1:30a ET on Sunday.