The Williams Martini Racing team were by far the best of the rest behind the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, with Valtteri Bottas taking third place on the grid just ahead of team-mate Felipe Massa in fourth.
Bottas was happy to see both Williams cars qualify on the second row, and believes they might be able to take the fight to the Mercedes duo up front, with the Finn feeling the race pace is strong.
“To have both cars on the second row is a good starting point for the race,” insisted Bottas. “I am really happy with the qualifying lap and the car is set-up for the race so I am confident we can push the Mercedes, it’s just a question of how much can we push them.
“If we have a great start it could open a lot of opportunities, and the pit stop lap could be critical depending on our strategy. If anything happens with the cars just in front of us, we will be there to collect those points.”
Massa was only 0.168s behind Bottas in qualifying, and the Brazilian believes he was missing a little bit of performance to be able to beat his Finnish team-mate. He is hoping to have a good race on Sunday to be able to claim a podium finish at the home of his former employees Ferrari.
“It was a good qualifying for me and for the team,” reflected Massa. “I was missing just that little bit extra to get third. We aren’t too far off the Mercedes and I think everyone should be happy with the result.
“It’s a long race and we have good long run pace so who knows what will happen. Hopefully this is just the beginning of a good weekend. I am really going to give everything I can to get on that podium, especially as it’s such a great podium.”
Head of Performance Engineering Rob Smedley believes the team are in a strong position to outscore the teams Williams are aiming to beat in the championship, including Ferrari and Red Bull Racing, and insisted both sides of the garage have worked extremely hard to achieve the second row lockout.
“That’s the first step to a great haul of points for the weekend,” said Smedley. “We are where we should be, but it’s not easy to meet those expectations and so everyone should be very happy. Both car crews and everyone supporting the team have worked very hard to get this result.
“The advantage the power unit gives is phenomenal around here and we are confident with our race pace as well. Our objective is to outscore those around us in the championship and we have set ourselves a good basis for that.”