After struggling for pace all through Friday practice in Singapore, the Williams Martini Racing team came back fighting fit on Saturday, with Felipe Massa qualifying sixth and Valtteri Bottas eighth.
Massa was delighted to be so far up the grid after the dramas of Friday, and even felt a top four start could have been possible. He was mostly happy that his team were able to isolate the problems the team endured on Friday and provide him with a competitive car for qualifying.
“This has been a promising qualifying for us because we have made big improvements compared to yesterday and we are in the mix with the teams around us in the championship,” said Massa. “Top four may have been possible, especially considering how tight it is, but sixth is a solid result.
“What is really encouraging is that we identified the problem we had yesterday and the changes we made improved the car as we expected so a really good job by the team. Tomorrow will be tough. This is the longest race of the season, the conditions are challenging, and there can be safety cars so our first thought is to get both cars home in the points.”
Team-mate Bottas also made it through to the final part of qualifying and took eighth, and felt he could have been even higher had he not made a small mistake heading into turn one on his quick lap.
“We made strong improvements from yesterday’s practice sessions to FP3, and we did this again going into qualifying,” insisted Bottas. “The mechanical set-up of the car has improved as the weekend has progressed and we have done a good job in getting the tyres into the right temperature window which we struggled with yesterday.
“My out-lap on my final run in Q3 was a little compromised, and I made a mistake in Turn One, so given how tight it was I could have gained more places but we need to be satisfied with where we are. We know we have the pace to fight with the cars around us so tomorrow should be an exciting race.”