Felipe Massa has admitted that Williams needs to pull out a good result from the Russian Grand Prix after a comparatively slow start to the 2016 season for the Grove team.
The Brazilian sits sixth in the drivers table after three races, four places ahead of team-mate Valtteri Bottas, while the team has ceded third spot in the constructors' standings to Red Bull, trailing the four-time world champion by 28 points heading into this weekend's race in Sochi. Massa's fifth place in Melbourne remains the team's best finish of the year, however, and the veteran knows that Williams needs to capitalise on a strong start to the Russian weekend.
“It's an important race for us,” he stressed, “It's an important race to do a good result and I think we need to take our opportunities when it's a good track for us. We know that it's a good race., we know that Red Bull is very strong in Barcelona and Monaco, so we know that we are in the fight and maybe here is an important track for us as well.”
With Lewis Hamilton hitting mechanical problems and Sebastian Vettel picking up a penalty, Bottas' qualifying performance proved good enough to join Nico Rosberg on the front row, while Massa was elevated to the outside of row two alongside Kimi Raikkonen.
“It's a good circuit for us, for sure,” the Brazilian said of Sochi Autodrom, “It's a track where our car should be competitive - and not only our car, but Mercedes is flying and maybe even Force India just behind as well, so it's a good track for Mercedes cars with the engines we have. Our car behaves well on this type of circuit.”
Despite the relatively poor start, however, Massa insists that the team never lost faith in its ability to fight with the likes of Red Bull.
“I think, if you see, we did some good races,” he pointed out, “In Bahrain, maybe we didn't do the right strategy, but I was second at the first corner, so it was a race to maybe finish fourth. We were in the fight.
“Everything can happen race by race. We know that the car shows it is competitive, we know that we're going to have tracks that are good for us and tracks that maybe aren't good for us. The next two tracks: Barcelona, for sure, we can do a good result, Monaco we don't know and then Canada is a good track, so you really need to approach the best every weekend and we know that the points will count after the last race of the season.”
“It's still good to start in the top five, even fourth, so I think [Sochi] is definitely a positive track for our car. I really hope, tomorrow, we can fight in a strong battle maybe even with Ferrari and with Red Bull. They were better than us in the first races, so I think maybe it is a good opportunity to try and be in front of them with both cars.”