The Williams Martini Racing team had a mixed day on track in Japan, with Valtteri Bottas showing a good turn of speed in both Friday free practice sessions at Suzuka but Felipe Massa struggled for grip and could not break into the top ten.
Bottas ended both practice sessions in the top four, finishing fourth in the morning and third in the afternoon. He felt at ease with his upgraded car, but despite a good Friday showing, he is keen to find out just where the team are in comparison with the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull when it comes to qualifying on Saturday.
“From the first lap the car balance was good so we have made a good step forward,” said Bottas. “The upgrades we have brought have worked well, which is positive to see.
“It will be interesting to see where we are tomorrow when people start to squeeze a little more from their cars. Although the Mercedes still look strong, there will be a good fight between us, the Ferraris and the Red Bulls.”
Team-mate Massa had a less competitive day, finishing eleventh in FP1 and fourteenth in FP2, but like Bottas feels the upgraded Williams is working well at Suzuka. Once some minor niggles are sorted out, the Brazilian believes he will be up there challenging with his team-mate, and insisted the work he put in on track on Friday was aimed at qualifying with a wet race a big possibility on Sunday.
“The car looks very competitive as Valtteri was close to the top,” insisted Massa. “I had some issues today and just couldn’t get any grip; it has nothing to do with the new aero parts as those seem to have worked well. Once we can fix the issues, I think we can be competitive tomorrow.
“Today’s work was aimed at qualifying performance, as the race looks like it will be wet, so that is another consideration we must take when setting up the car. Our race pace looks strong from what Valtteri has shown, so we will work hard to get my car working the same tomorrow.”