Valtteri Bottas says he expects Williams to be strong in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix and is hopeful they can challenge Ferrari, although the race could be another matter.

Bottas was third fastest in FP1 and fifth in FP2 this evening, finishing the opening day in Sakhir only 0.106s off Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari in P3.

"It is only Friday and I have no idea what they [Ferrari] have been testing," Bottas replied when asked where they are in relation to the Scuderia. "For sure, not more far away, I think. I think we can be closer here, but if it is enough to challenge them in the race, that is probably a little bit too optimistic at this point. But I think tomorrow we can be strong in qualifying.

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"We know in qualifying we are pretty good and if we get everything right, yeah there might be a chance [to beat them].

"Let's see tomorrow."

Meanwhile, Bottas added that the team has been focusing on trying to use the soft tyre more on race day.

"We know we still have more pace for tomorrow, like normal. I think a good day overall. But now we still need to work and tomorrow and Sunday are the days that matter," he underlined.

"We were trying to focus a bit more on the soft [tyres] today and if we can run more with it in the race, it is a benefit, like we saw in China with the teams that could do it. It was a real benefit [for those teams]. I think the things we are doing now to get the tyres to work properly, is working and that is good, but we still need to investigate tonight."

"We know we are [still] not as good on the tyres in the race conditions as Mercedes and Ferrari," he continued. "but it feels a bit better and maybe we can use the option tyres now a little bit better as well, which is positive. [As I said] now we need to work tonight to find more performance."