Felipe Massa has insisted that no-one should consider Williams' second row lock-out at the Japanese Grand Prix as unexpected, given the team's recent gains.

The Brazilian qualified fourth for the Suzuka event, denied only by the two works Mercedes drivers and Williams team-mate Valtteri Bottas and, while admitting that he would have been happier with the inside of row two, claimed that he was happy with the result.

"I didn't do a perfect lap, but I think Valtteri did a very good lap, so maybe he deserves to start where he is starting," Massa acknowledged, claiming to have struggled with understeer through the technical opening sector.

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Denying that he had been forced into set-up changes after appearing to struggle for handling and pace on day one, Massa revealed that his lap had been completed with the full benefit of Williams' latest upgrade package.

"I wasn't using the front wing," he explained, "We're not sure if it was better or worse, but decided to go back to what we had before. The other pieces are on the car.

"I didn't change anything in the set-up, or very few things. I had problems in the car yesterday where many things weren't working, so we changed some pieces around the car. I had a little issue with the engine, which wasn't working in the right way, but we fixed that, so the car, today, is where it should be.

Having put a gap between themselves and the likes of Ferrari and Red Bull in qualifying, Williams appeared to have surprised some onlookers, but Massa insisted that the team was where it deserved to be, especially on a track that suits the FW36 more than some used recently.

"I don't think it is a surprise," he maintained, "We've showed that we've made a big improvement. The worst tracks for us were Monaco, Singapore, Hungary, so we don't have that type of track any more.

"[Japan] shows that we have a good car, that we are competitive, that we can do it, that we can do a good job. The only thing is that we don't know how it is going to be tomorrow. Everything can change with the difficult weather, anything can happen. We just have to be ready for a difficult race tomorrow and I hope that we can have a good car tomorrow in the rain.

"We would prefer [to race] in the dry, but I hope we can do a good job because the car was competitive, whatever sector. I think that's positive..."