Felipe Massa admits that the Williams team still has some ground to make up on its rivals when it comes to its performance in slower corners, but reckons that progress is being made.
Speaking between pre-season testing and the start of racing at the Australian Grand Prix, the F1 veteran conceded that Williams' recent bugbear remains an issue with the new FW38, which appears to be an evolution of last year's car rather than anything dramatically different. Despite its resurgence as an F1 frontrunner, the Grove-based team has struggled to find enough downforce to make its cars competitive in the slow stuff - and has also struggled in the wet - and Massa's comments suggest it could continue to find life difficult in 2016.
“I think maybe we were the quickest in the first sector [of Circuit de Catalunya] if I'm not wrong, but sector three, no," the Brazilian confirmed, "In sector three we still need to improve. For sure, it was the weakest point of our car last year and we know that we are still not having the best car in that sector,"
Despite his obvious concerns, Massa is quick to point out that the FW38 is an improvement over its predecessor, but admits that Williams still has some work to do if it is to challenge the expected frontrunners this year.
"I think the car is better than last year, so it was definitely a better feeling with the new car in slow corners than last year," he noted, "We know we still need to keep improving, keep working from where we did from the middle of the season until now to improve especially that area. I think the reaction of the car was positive."
Having ended 2015 as 'best of the rest' behind racewinners Mercedes and Ferrari, Williams will be looking to achieve at least as much this year, but Massa is reluctant to put a number on the team's potential before everyone runs in Melbourne.
"Where we are is difficult to say, but I think we can be competitive," he claimed, "We know Mercedes is at the front, maybe Ferrari is there too, but then I think maybe there can be many other teams with a small difference in terms of lap time. I hope we can be there in a good fight, but we will know at the first race."