Valtteri Bottas has admitted he has been surprised by just how much Williams have managed to improve this season.
The Grove squad was nowhere in 2013 and scored just five points, finishing ahead of only Marussia and Caterham in the Constructors' Championship. However this season the outfit has leapt forward and to date has scored 135 points, leaving it fourth in the Constructors', ahead of the likes of Force India and McLaren and only seven points behind Ferrari with eight races to go.
Bottas himself has also done extremely well, notching up 95 points in total – the lion's share of the team's haul – and the Finn has also had three successive podiums, with third place in Austria, his debut F1 rostrum result, followed up by second places in Britain and Germany.
“I have to say if last year someone would have said we are going to be consistently on the podium it would have been a bit difficult to believe,” Bottas conceded recently. “But after last year we knew we were going in the right direction with all the changes that were happening and that we were going to improve, but maybe not this much.
“But that is all down to really hard work and especially doing the right things. It has been really good. It has always been difficult to set targets before the season, but now we see where we are and so we need to live with the results we are getting and always move the targets higher.”
Asked what those new targets are, he added: “I think as a team we need to make sure we keep pulling out a gap to the teams behind now. We are in a good position. We should not write off trying to catch Red Bull up [in the Constructors' either].
“It is still a long season and if we score points with both cars it could still at this point be possible.”
Pressed on if Williams can win a race this year, Bottas noted it will be difficult, but is not beyond the realms of possibility.
“We are always aiming for that. This season is really, really difficult because of Mercedes being really strong at all the tracks. But you never know what is going to happen – although we know by pure pace it is difficult this season. However we should still try and aim for that.
“We are still aiming to improve this season and we are still bringing updates. Definitely we should not go backwards.
"We should aim to get more.”