Williams Martini Racing had an extremely strong qualifying at the Sochi circuit ahead of tomorrow’s Russian Grand Prix as Valtteri Bottas was able to keep fellow Finn, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen behind him and as a result qualified in third place but moves up to the front row as a result of Sebastian Vettel’s gearbox penalty.

Speaking following the session, Bottas commented by saying:

I’m very pleased with our qualifying performance; it was the maximum result I think we could have achieved, and my lap in Q3 was very good. It now puts us in a very good position for the race and we need to focus on turning a good qualifying, into a good race performance. This is a track that I really like and normally do well at, and it’s a track that suits our car. The new parts we have introduced are helping us, so the team at the factory and track have done a good job in improving the car. We have some fast cars starting behind us which will make the race difficult, but a podium will be the target.

Williams Head of Performance Engineering Rob Smedley commented by saying:

It’s a great result for the team. We gained a couple of positions because of Vettel and Hamilton, but reliability is as much a part of the game as performance is. I think the car is quick here – we were genuinely in front of Red Bull, and Valtteri was quicker than Raikkonen in the Ferrari. Regardless of what people could have done, the timesheets are usually the greatest arbitrator of everything. We did our homework this morning with the two cars in FP3 and went into qualifying with a game plan which we executed well. We definitely have to aim for the podium tomorrow. I think there’s a certain point where you can turn a good season into a great season, and this is an opportunity. If you look at where we were in Australia and Bahrain, compared to how far the team has come in working to develop the car, it is encouraging. We’ve got new parts and we’re trying to optimise the car all the time, and I think that’s really key in understanding the tyres, which is so important. If you think how far we’ve come in three races, then it’s really good progress.

Felipe Massa will start Sunday’s race from 4th place on the grid following Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel’s five place grid penalty and speaking following the session, Massa commented by saying:

It was a good qualifying for us as starting P2 and P4 is positive. We were a bit lucky with the penalties for Ferrari and Mercedes but I think it was definitely a good session. We just need to concentrate to have a good race tomorrow. Anything is possible and it’s probably the best track for us so far this season, so we’ll try and put everything together in the race.

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