Rob Smedley says Valtteri Bottas is “definitely” over the worst of it and that his back injury shouldn't be an issue for the rest of the season.
Bottas returned to action in Malaysia last weekend and finished fifth with a late pass on team-mate Felipe Massa.
It was a welcome result for the Finn, given he had his ”worst ever first lap”
and especially given he had to miss the season opener in Australia two weeks earlier, after suffering soft tissue damage in his lower back during qualifying.
“The 'proof of the pudding is in the eating',” Smedley, Williams' head of vehicle performance, replied when asked if Bottas' back injury is all sorted. “He has done 56 laps in intense heat in Malaysia, some reasonably high braking events around this circuit, running at a multiple stop race - so pushing for the whole race - and he hasn't encountered any problems. That is good.
“He still obviously has work to do because it was only two weeks ago that he couldn't actually race his car, but we are definitely over the worst bit.”
Smedley also underlined just how pleased the Grove squad is with the way 25-year-old has come on since his debut back in 2013.
“Valtteri is doing a great job. I think his rate of progression has been faultless really. He hasn't really stopped developing.
“I think all race drivers to a certain extent are developing all the time. If I look at Felipe, from the end of 2013 to the Felipe we have got now, he has developed as well and that is a driver with ten years experience or something like that. He has got bags of experience, but he is still developing.
“They are both developing and I don't think we have any problems or any issues whatsoever with our drivers. I think we have two extremely competent drivers and if you put either of our drivers in a Mercedes or a Ferrari then they would quite probably have won the race here.”
Meanwhile, Smedley added that he felt “fine” at the end of the Malaysian Grand Prix last weekend when Bottas and Massa were battling for P5.
“They have to race and we have no problem with it. We are not going to stop them racing. It has to be clean, they don't have to jeopardise any points for the team, but they are two great drivers. They are two really, really professional drivers and they give each other a lot of respect and they give each other just enough room to race,” he continued.
“It was good wheel-to-wheel racing and I think that is good for Formula One. We are not going to stop them doing that.”