Valtteri Bottas wants Williams to get off to the strongest possible start to the new Formula 1 season in order to gain the biggest advantage over its rivals, who he sees will improve as the year goes on.

The Finnish driver is intrigued to see each teams' true pace in racing conditions, starting with qualifying at Albert Park on Saturday. Bottas is aiming for a positive start to the year and sees the Australian Grand Prix as a key round.

"The weekend will be interesting but also important as we have to be able to have a strong start and make sure we gain the most from the weekend, especially as other teams improve," Bottas explained. "You never know how other teams will progress throughout the season, so points here are key."

Related Articles

Bottas and Williams completed its winter testing schedule in a upbeat frame of mind and believe they are at the head of the pack hunting down defending champions Mercedes.

The 25-year-old put in a solid performance at the Australian Grand Prix last year, finishing in fifth place as all the teams got to grips with the new power units.

Although the Williams driver didn't state an outright target for Melbourne, the team will be focused on podium finishes to carry on the good momentum from the end of last season. Bottas finished third in Abu Dhabi, with his team-mate Felipe Massa in second.

Williams last won in Australia 19 years ago, with Damon Hill claiming victory at the 1996 Australian Grand Prix in Albert Park's debut on the Formula 1 calendar. The team has six Formula 1 victories in Australia in total.

"I like Melbourne, the first race is really when the gloves come off so qualifying will be an exciting session," Bottas added. "It is a new season and the first time we see where everyone is competitively."