Williams can be in the mix for a podium in Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix, despite its opening day in Shanghai not running entirely smoothly.

That is according to Valtteri Bottas, who ended the day seventh fastest overall and tapping on the shoulders of Red Bull and Ferrari, as all three teams gave vain chase of Mercedes. With the Silver Arrows again looking the most potent combination, despite Nico Rosberg finishing up only fifth, Bottas is confident that Williams can challenge Red Bull for a spot in the top five and, possibly, take on Ferrari for 'best of the rest' honours.

"I think we can definitely fight with Red Bull, and I think we can also be closer to Ferrari," the Finn noted, "But, if we can really challenge them or Mercedes, it's difficult [to say]."

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Bottas' comments came after a good day's work for his side of the Williams garage, and one in which he insisted that chasing times was not a priority. He ended the afternoon's 90-minute practice session on a 1min 38.850secs lap, half a second shy of third-placed Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull.

"[It was] quite a normal Friday for us, just going through the programme," Bottas insisted, "What is positive today is that we tried the aero updates that we had and everything worked well. Like any Friday, we were not really targeting a quick lap time - that's for tomorrow - but everything worked as expected so that's positive. The car, when we went out, straight away felt very good. There were no big adjustments to be made but, of course, we will still investigate how we can improve the race pace because that's the main thing. In qualifying, we can still be strong because we still have something in our back pocket so we just need to work on race pace."

When asked how Sunday's anticipated pace would match up to his rivals, however, Bottas would only say that he expected better results than last time out at Sepang.

"I haven't seen compared to others, but the feeling is that we should be better than Malaysia," he confirmed, "We have a little less tyre drop-off than in Malaysia, but we need to see a bit more [pace]. For sure, it's not going to be worse than two weeks ago."

The quest for long run information was hampered when team-mate Felipe Massa was forced out of the action by an incident at the final hairpin, but Bottas insists that there are still enough figures to work from.

"Of course [it hurt us] as you get 50% less data, but we'll try to work with what we have," he concluded.