Valtteri Bottas believes Williams is going to be Mercedes' closest challenger for the rest of the Japanese Grand Prix weekend.

While traditionally not as quick on a Friday as it is in qualifying and the race, Williams had an encouraging first day of practice as Bottas ended FP2 third quickest. While Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were over a second quicker and team-mate Felipe Massa struggled in 14th, when asked if he felt Williams was the second quickest team at Suzuka, Bottas replied: "It seems like that, yeah.

"I mean, it's only Friday but looking at today I think we can challenge Red Bull as well. So hopefully we can fight in these kind of positions and I'm sure we can find something. Felipe should also find some time so we should be more close together."

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On the handling of his car, Bottas said: "It feels better [than Singapore]. We had some updates here and everything seemed to work as planned. It's a step forward; not a massive step but a step still. So all positive so far."

And while Bottas was slightly surprised by the gap to Mercedes on Friday he expects Williams to close up ahead of qualifying.

"A little bit [surprised] but I know it was not the best lap from my side so there's maybe a little bit more to come from there. They were still quite a bit ahead but it's nothing strange for Friday for us, we normally make quite good steps for Saturday so I'm not too worried. I think we can really challenge Ferrari and Red Bull really well here."