Valtteri Bottas is confident that the upgrades Williams is planning to bring to the Spanish Grand Prix in two weeks’ time will allow the team to cut the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari at the front of field in Formula 1.
Williams has established itself as the third-fastest team so far this season, but appears to be stranded in that position.
It enjoys a sizeable advantage over Red Bull and Lotus, who are scrapping over P4 in the pecking order, but remains far behind the vastly-improved Ferrari team and pace-setters Mercedes.
However, in Bahrain, Bottas suggested that Williams can fight with the leading two teams by fending off Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari for fourth place in the final stint of the race.
Vettel had been set for a podium finish before running wide over some kerbing and sustaining damage to his front wing, forcing Ferrari into a third pit stop and dropping the German driver behind Bottas, who only stopped twice. He crossed the line with an advantage of just one second.
After enduring a very lonely Chinese Grand Prix, Bottas was delighted with the result, and set out his goals for the next race in Spain in his Williams blog.
“I have to say it’s great to have another race weekend immediately after a difficult one, like the Chinese Grand Prix was for us,” Bottas said. “And even better when we could see we made progress after the race in Shanghai.
“It’s now nicer to go to the break before the European races knowing we’re making progress. As for myself, I had a good weekend, a very good lap in qualifying and a great race, so it’s better to have a longer break on the back of such a result.”
Bottas is confident that the upgrades Williams is planning to take to the Spanish Grand Prix will draw the team closer to Mercedes and Ferrari, but is unsure whether the team will be able to overhaul the front-runners this year, such is their rate of development.
“We need to make sure the new parts we’ll have for Barcelona will really work as expected, because if that’s the case we will be closer to Mercedes and Ferrari in Spain,” Bottas said.
“I’m confident that will be the case because since last year we have had a great development program but this year it will be difficult to completely close the gap to the top two teams because Ferrari made a huge step forward since the first race.
“I’m confident that we will keep improving, but of course it will then depend on how much the teams in front improve as to whether we can catch up with them or not.”