Valtteri Bottas hopes Williams can close the gap to Ferrari during this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, although the Finn still expects the Scuderia to keep an edge on race pace.
The 25-year-old had a productive day behind the wheel of his Mercedes-powered FW37 after racking up 59 laps across the first two free practice sessions at Sakhir.
While Williams has had a tendency not to show its hand on Fridays this year, Bottas popped up twice in the top-five and finished only one tenth adrift of the lead SF15-T of Kimi Raikkonen in FP2.
With the Grove-based team always performing better on Saturdays, the 2011 GP3 Series champion feels he can fight with Ferrari for a slot on the second row of the grid. However, Bottas remains unsure of whether Williams can carry that speed into a sustained attack during Sunday's Grand Prix.
“We know in qualifying we are pretty good,” he said. “If we get everything right, yeah there might be a chance (of challenging Ferrari). Let’s see tomorrow.
“I think we can be closer here, but if it is enough to challenge them in the race, that is probably a little bit too optimistic at this point.”
Meanwhile, Felipe Massa’s Friday proved a bit scrappier, as the Brazilian struggled with the balance of his car and finished both sessions down in P10. But the 11-time grand prix winner feels he can repeat his Shanghai performance and turn things around for qualifying.
“I think maybe for me it was not fantastic, I think for the team it was not so bad,” said Massa. “For me I was not so happy with the balance of the car so I just need to improve for tomorrow.
“I expect we can do another good quali, so I will try. I will try everything I can to do that. That’s it.
“We just need to concentrate on this weekend, concentrate on preparing the car for the race because we know how important it is to try to get closer to these guys in front, so we will try.”
Click here for Friday's gallery from the Bahrain Grand Prix