Despite out-qualifying both Ferrari and Red Bull at Suzuka, Valtteri Bottas admits that the Williams team needs to be on top of its game if he is to take home a podium from the Japanese Grand Prix.

With Mercedes back to its dominating best - Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton were close to a half-second clear of the chasing pack in Q3 - Williams, Ferrari and the Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo duked it out for best of the rest honours, with Bottas coming out on top by a couple of tenths over Sebastian Vettel.

After struggling slightly in the Singapore Grand Prix last weekend, the result was a positive one for Williams, especially as Friday's rain wiped out any meaningful running ahead of qualifying.

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"It's very good for us, obviously," Bottas acknowledged, "It's a very different track to Singapore and we always knew it's going to be better for our car. I think we came in for this weekend, for the dry, with a good set-up already, so we didn't really have that much work to do from practice to qualifying, but today was one the most difficult Saturdays we've had, because there was rain on Friday and, here, qualifying is very important.

"We had some new bits for the race in Singapore which produced some more downforce and that's helping here in the high-speed corners where you need stability from the car. Today, I felt really comfortable with it and, from practice onwards, everything was running very smoothly, so it was a good surprise.

"It's always a great feeling to be in the top three and I'm really pleased with the way we worked today as a team. From the morning practice to qualifying, we did just the right changes to the set-up of the car and it's nice to see the result, but this is only Saturday, so we need to focus for the race."

With the remainder of the top ten so closely-matched, Bottas is not expecting an easy ride on race day, and admits that, with the Mercedes pair likely out of reach, he will need the support of his team if he is to fend off the Ferraris.

"I think, as a group, we did a very good job today, but it's tomorrow when we need to do the perfect job," he claimed, "I think Mercedes is very strong here, they seem to be back to their normal form after they struggled in Singapore, so they're going to be very difficult to beat. But, in the past, we've seen them running into some issues so, if we're close behind them, you never know. We'll try it the start and then we'll see where we are."