Valtteri Bottas returned to the top three of the F1 grid for the first time in 2015 after Williams proved good on its word that there was more to come after some deceptive practice performances at Spa-Francorchamps.
Bottas and team-mate Felipe Massa had troubled the top ten only sparing through the early part of the weekend, but took full advantage of the other 'best of the rest' contenders losing cars in Q2 to ensure a strong Williams presence. Although Massa was eventually pushed back to seventh in the final phase of qualifying, Bottas produced a lap of 1min 48.537secs to edge out Romain Grosjean and join the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in the top three.
“It's good to be back,” the Finn smiled, “It was a good session for us – we knew after practice, when we looked at the timesheets, that there was so much more we could do when we put everything together in the car and we managed to get the balance fine-tuned really well for qualifying.
“The car felt good through the whole session - we didn't need to adjust the front flap a lot so it was pretty well balanced – and, then, in Q3, it was up to me to put the lap together, put every corner together, which is not easy on this kind of track. However, I had two good runs and, luckily, that was enough for P3.”
With Mercedes power at its back, Williams was expected to rival Red Bull and Ferrari in the battle for row two of the grid, but failed to convince outsiders as it ploughed its own furrow in practice and trailed its rivals by a bigger margin than expected.
“Analysing everything after practice, we knew that it was going to be really close behind [Mercedes], but we knew that P3 could be possible if we got everything perfect. It was close, but we managed to get everything right and this was the result.”