Valtteri Bottas claimed his fourth podium of the 2014 F1 season with third place in the Belgian Grand Prix but admitted that cracking the top step may be a tougher challenge.

Despite Williams heading to Spa-Francorchamps with experts suggesting that it could be a circuit that would allow the team a legitimate challenge to Mercedes' domination, a frustrating qualifying session left Bottas on the outside of row three and facing competition for the final podium spot from Red Bull and Ferrari.

As it turned out, a typically considered drive from the Finn saw him quickly making up places and putting himself into consideration for the top three as he battled with countryman Kimi Raikkonen and four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel after the two Mercedes drivers collided on lap two.

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"It was, again, a really nice race to be in," Bottas admitted, "Obviously, yesterday, the weather played a role in the qualifying, and we knew that, in the dry, we would have better pace than in the wet, so we were really hopeful.

"I have to say, however, that we are little bit surprised by the pace of Red Bull and Mercedes. They were quite a bit far away. Of course, our race was a bit compromised after the poor start, as I was quite a long time stuck behind some other cars and couldn't really go at the pace we had. But yeah, I had some good overtakes, we had good pit-stops and it was a good strategy by the team that allowed us to come up a few places and again to the podium."

Third place marked Bottas' fourth podium in five races - with the only gap coming in Hungary last time out - but he conceded that hopes of taking a maiden win with the clearly-potent FW36 were fading.

"The team has done such a good job, we are definitely on the right way," he reflected, "Another podium, the fourth one in my career and the fourth one this season. We are still chasing for the highest step but for now, for this season, if we keep like this, it's okay because it's the future that matters.

"I think this season it's going to be difficult [to win]. We definitely need to be lucky to achieve that. Mercedes is really strong and, even on a track like this, Red Bull was really, really quick. We couldn't really challenge Ricciardo, so we have still work to do, but we are on the right way."

Bottas' podium moved him to within eleven points of Fernando Alonso in the battle for fourth place in the drivers' championship, and allowed Williams to retain hopes of overhauling Ferrari in the teams' standings, with the Scuderia just ten points ahead after Alonso was gifted a couple of extra marks when Kevin Magnussen was removed from sixth place in Belgium.