Valtteri Bottas shrugged off the track time lost by Williams team-mate Felipe Massa to suggest that the team is a legitimate contender for 'best of the rest' honours at the Australian Grand Prix.

The Finn was third fastest in the opening 90-minute session before falling behind both Ferraris later in the day, but insists that Williams was already strong enough to fight for the podium behind frontrunner Mercedes.

"It's looking okay," he reported, "I haven't seen the others' lap times on the race pace, but my feeling felt good. I reckon, if I need to guess something now, it's that Mercedes is quite a way away from everyone, but we are going to be in the fight with Ferrari at this point.

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"We are much stronger as a team now and I think we can get everything what we have in terms of pace of the car. I think we can now maximise it, I'm confident we are strong and the car felt good today, so I think we can have a strong weekend. It's only Friday, so we don't have any reason to get 100 per cent out of the car yet. Like last year, we are just doing our programme on Friday."

With Massa being sidelined by a water leak that required the removal of his Mercedes power unit, Bottas shouldered the burden of developing set-up in the second session, but revealed that the FW37 had been pretty much on the mark from the off.

"It was a quite okay Friday," he noted, "I think we managed to go through the plan and the car felt pretty good straight out of the box, [needing] only small adjustments during the session. Just getting information about the tyres, we did some long runs at the end of practice two and that felt quite consistent, but I think the main thing for us to look at for tomorrow is still one lap performance, I think there is more that we can get out of the tyres. We couldn't maximise the one lap pace with the option, so I'm sure there's more in to it and we just need to work on that.

"The long run felt consistent - I did it with the option tyre and there was no massive drop-off, so that was nice to feel and the car balance was not bad so I expect we will be strong in the race. We just need to work on the qualifying now.

"I didn't have too much degradation [on the soft tyre], and we did some other work with engine modes and practicing fuel saving and stuff like this. So, for me, the tyres felt quite consistent. I haven't yet seen it compared to others, so we'll need to see - the feeling wasn't too bad but, as always, we can improve."

Although the team lost out on the extra data that Massa's car would have provided, Bottas said there was relief that the problem wasn't bigger.

"For sure, it's not ideal, as we missed many runs, different kinds of tests with tyres, but luckily it was not that serious a problem so everything can be fixed for tomorrow. No engine change or anything."