Valtteri Bottas did not appear surprised to make it through to the final phase of qualifying for the US Grand Prix, instead lamenting the fact that he wound up 'only' ninth on the grid for Sunday's race.

Given Williams' recent record, making it to Q2 would have been cause for a celebration, but, since removing the coanda exhaust from both FW35s, the team has enjoyed an apparent boost in performance, and Bottas rode that all the way to Q3, having led the way in the opening phase of the session.

Once in the final ten minutes of action, however, the Finn - whose previous best was an equally unexpected third on the grid in mixed conditions in Montreal - was pushed back from an early spot in the top four, as mistakes on his last run scuppered hopes of an improvement.

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"I really enjoyed today and I am happy with that performance," Bottas claimed, "To be honest, however, I expected a bit more in Q3, because we were competitive in Q1 and Q2.

"I'm very happy for the team though - they've all done a great job and improved the car a lot from practice to qualifying. We are in a good position for tomorrow and we need to try and gain from this and score some points in the race."

With team-mate Pastor Maldonado in the midst of an increasingly acrimonious split from Williams, Bottas will also have taken heart from the fact that he remains a part of the line-up in 2014, where he will be partnered by the vastly more experienced Felipe Massa.

"We had both cars on similar configurations, targeting the same optimum operating window for the tyres, and knew, if we could achieve this, then there was potential for a good result with both cars," chief race engineer Xevi Pujolar explained, "Valtteri got the tyres working well and put in a consistently strong performance throughout qualifying to get into Q3.

"The Circuit of the Americas is quite unique in terms of track layout, roughness and temperature which, mixed with the fact that the tyre compound choices are on the conservative side, makes getting the tyres working well the key to a good qualifying lap. We had better performance in FP1 and were working to bring this back in practice this morning. We didn't quite get the tyre performance with Pastor, but it was great to have Valtteri qualify in ninth and we now aim to convert a good result today into points tomorrow."