Felipe Massa believes Williams will be scrapping with Force India, McLaren and Lotus for a place in the top ten at the Spanish Grand Prix.
Williams has been competing for top six finishes at each race so far this season, but appeared to slip back in the competitive order during Friday practice in Barcelona. With Valtteri Bottas saying the top six remains the aim
, Massa doesn't rule out such a result but says Williams will have more competition this weekend.
“I think that definitely I don't expect an easy weekend,” Massa said. “I think that Mercedes are far in front and Red Bull as well. Ferrari are a little bit in front but then you have a big fight between us, Force India, McLaren and Lotus who have made a big step. We need to be ready for a fight, and it won't be easy, but I hope that we can be in front of these teams that we are close with.”
And Massa said he wasn't surprised by the progress made by fellow Mercedes-powered team McLaren after it failed to score in the Chinese Grand Prix.
“In three weeks between races teams will improve and McLaren are a big team that knows how it works during the championship and how they need to work to improve. They're very close to us but still behind all the others. McLaren are a team that is competitive in the fight with us, Force India, Lotus and maybe Ferrari.”
Looking at exactly where Williams is losing performance, Massa said it was a continuation of rear-end issues from earlier this season.
“The rear is giving up, it's a situation that we've had since the beginning of the year, and we have definitely improved but we need to improve a bigger amount. We're fighting and working on that and I'm not missing any comments and ideas on what we need to improve, everyone in the team knows. It can be improved but we need to bring the right pieces and the right configurations to improve.”
However, when asked about the new parts that Williams brought to Barcelona, Massa was pleased with the success rate of the updates.
“Everything that we tried worked and we'll keep it in the car apart from the big rear wing that we tried in Australia and it didn't work here which is a shame but all the other parts in the car are working so that's positive.”