Valtteri Bottas has confirmed he did experience a "little bit" of back pain on Friday during opening practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix, but that it is not anything that they did not expect.

Bottas had to miss the opening race of the season in Australia two weeks ago after suffering soft tissue damage in his lower back during qualifying.

The Finn was given the all-clear to return to action on Thursday and in total he did 54 laps on Friday in his Williams, finishing FP2 in fifth position.

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"It was nice to be back and it was nice to drive without any major pain, only little things that we were expecting," he told reporters in Sepang. "But it was consistent during the day and it was not getting any worse, so that was nice and I'm confident for the rest of the weekend.

"It's only going to get better. We have made those adjustments to the seat and pedals and it feels much better.

"I cannot say it's completely pain free, but the feelings are, as I said, what we expected really. You feel it a little bit but the main thing is that it was not getting any worse and it was very consistent during the day, just a little bit of pain."

Is the pain distracting?

"No - and I can apply the maximum brake pressure and even on the long run I could brake well for the whole run without any increased pain. I'm confident for the weekend because there are still many more pain killers I can take and I haven't taken much," he added.

Meanwhile, Bottas said that his race simulation didn't go well due to car damage.

"Today was difficult with the conditions. The track was really dirty and dusty in FP1 and in FP2 it was obviously very hot. The short runs didn't feel too bad but the long runs we had damage in the car so the aero was compromised. We saw that at the end of the run and it didn't feel good at all. Luckily we found the reason," he explained.

As for Ferrari, Bottas conceded that the Scuderia seem a "bit stronger" than Williams: "It looks like Ferrari are perhaps a little bit stronger than we expected. We know that we can improve a lot for tomorrow, we can still improve the car balance and obviously take out fuel and turn up the engine.

"Whether it will be enough, I don't know."