Valtteri Bottas is confident he will be able to battle it out for another top-six finish in the F1 2014 Malaysian Grand Prix next weekend.
Bottas provisionally finished fifth in Australia, after Daniel Ricciardo's exclusion, despite having to start back in 15th due to a gearbox penalty and despite losing time with a right-rear puncture after he tapped the wall on the outside of Turn 10 on lap 9. Now he can't wait for Sepang and believes the Williams is capable of matching all the teams, with the exception of Mercedes, and possibly Red Bull too.
“I don't know about the Red Bull, I never was close, but definitely Mercedes are looking too quick. But I really think we can fight with all the others,” Bottas told Sky Sports F1
in the countdown to the second round in the championship.
“We [already] have more points than last year and the car is so much quicker compared to others. I'm really happy with what we've done over the winter and in testing," he continued. “Malaysia will be a very different track, it will be more like a proper race track [than a] special street circuit, bumpy and a quite slippery surface.
“We will see there, but we do expect that we can really fight in the top six positions and I'm very, very much looking forward.”
Despite all that, however, Bottas conceded that the Mercedes-powered FW36 does have its weaknesses, particularly in the high-speed corners, when it is difficult to follow other cars.
“I would say our strong points are the top speed, we're very strong, which helps in the overtaking and also in the braking. It's definitely a more consistent car than last year; it's not doing many unexpected things so that definitely gives you confidence. I think in the braking and entries of corners we are quite strong because you can really lean on it and trust it. But on power, we still have some weak points on the car; the traction is something we need to work on,” he confirmed.
“There's still work to do, like we saw in the wet [in qualifying on the Saturday in Australia] - the weaknesses in our car came up quite well in the wet and we still need a stronger rear end of the car on power [as well],” the Finn concluded.