Valtteri Bottas says he doesn't expect Williams will be able to challenge Mercedes and Ferrari ahead in the Bahrain Grand Prix, but at the same time doesn't anticipate a rear guard threat from Red Bull or others either.

With Ferrari taking its stride towards challenging Mercedes for honours in Bahrain this weekend, Williams has once more established itself as the 'best of the rest', with Bottas and Felipe Massa again locking out the third row.

Having endured a relatively uneventful afternoon in China as it couldn't mount a podium challenge, but at the same time didn't face a challenge behind either, Bottas anticipates it will hard to make much progress beyond its qualifying slot in Bahrain too.

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"I thought we maybe could be really fighting for the second row as well, but Ferrari was quicker today," the Finn said. "I think in Q3 I had a nice clean lap, my best lap of the weekend.

"They are still just that step ahead even in qualifying and we know that in the race they could be a bit more ahead, as well as Mercedes. We will do everything we can tomorrow, but we know it is not going to be easy if we want to gain any positions.

"We do not really [expect pressure from behind]. The beginning of the race is the main thing for us - just try and build a good gap behind, so we can then do the strategy chosen for the race."

Asked whether he expects he will be focusing on beating Massa, having been defeated in China, Bottas says it is always his aim to get the better of his team-mate.

"Team-mates want to beat each other and that also makes both drivers go quicker. So, yeah it should be a nice battle again with him and of course I want to finish ahead. But we need to keep in mind we need the points for the team, so we are not going to do anything silly."