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Williams takes comfort from solid Bottas debut
17 March 2013
It hadn't been the smoothest start to the 2013 F1 season thanks to the rain-hit qualifying sessions, and Williams came away from Melbourne with no points to celebrate, but at least Valtteri Bottas had been given a chance to settle into the cockpit and find his racing feet.
"It was good that Valtteri was able to bring the car home in his first race," said the team's technical director Mike Coughlan, after the Finn ended the Australian Grand Prix in a solid 14th place with no dramas along the way.
"Valtteri had a solid race début and brought the car home in difficult conditions," agreed Laurent Debout, the team support leader for Williams' engine partners Renault Sport F1. "But overall this weekend has been disappointing," he confessed.
"I had a good start from my grid position and it felt great to be back racing again," said Bottas, adding: "A small mistake a few laps in cost me some places though."
Despite that, he didn't think he could have improved on his position in Melbourne. "We got the maximum performance we could from the car today and although the pace isn't there yet, there are still some positives to take away," he insisted.
Bottas' day certainly went better than that of his team mate Pastor Maldonado, who ended the day early when he spun off into the gravel on lap 24 and the Williams ended up beached, unable to continue.
"It was a disappointing end to a difficult weekend for myself and the team," admitted Maldonado. "The car was not responding as we hoped in the conditions today and unfortunately I lost the back end and ended up in the gravel."
The Venezuelan had been sharp in his criticism of the new FW35 this weekend, having labelled it "undriveable" in the wet after failing to get through the rain-hit Q1 qualifying session on Saturday afternoon.
"We need to work hard to solve the problems in the car to be ready for the next race in Malaysia," he said after the race on Sunday.
The team had hedged its bets on tyre strategy, starting Bottas on the supersoft options and Maldonado on the harder primes. Neither seemed to offer any advantage over the other, Coughlan admitted.
"We have work we need to do now as a team to improve the performance," he admitted. "We have some ideas we are taking forward to the next race so we'll be pushing hard in Malaysia."
Certainly the less-than-desired performance in Australia had done nothing to knock the optimistic outlook of the team's newest driver for the season ahead.
"The next race is only a week away, so we will work very hard to prepare as best we can and try to score our first points of the season," said Bottas.
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