Williams enjoyed a marvellous pre-season – second only to firm 2014 title favourites Mercedes. As such, hopes were high heading into Melbourne for a return to glory by the historic team. Ultimately, Valtteri Bottas’ impressive P5 marked great progress for the team, but with the Finn having hit the wall on the exit of turn ten, damaging the sidewall of the tyre, and Felipe Massa’s unfortunate collision at turn one, it could have been so much better for Williams. As such, Bottas has been particularly bullish about his teams chances for future success this season, as he proclaims that there is “more to come.”
“There are 18 races to prove what we can do,” Bottas told Autosport. “It could have been better in Australia. There was nothing Felipe could have done to avoid a first corner accident and I made a mistake – so there is definitely more to come.”
Valtteri’s claims are bullish but with substance. Williams are on the crest of a wave at the moment, as their FW36 has proved to be reliable and fast throughout the winter – They only prompted one red flag in the entire winter and ironically, that came in the dying embers of testing when they had found the car’s breaking point, and driven past it.
Meanwhile, Bottas is correct in his evaluation of Australia. The team’s 10 point haul failed to represent their pace throughout the event. Firstly, the wet Q3 showed signs of previously unseen aerodynamic deficiencies in the car, which restricted Massa and Bottas to propping up the top ten. Felipe Massa has since acknowledged “When you have extreme conditions, we suffer a lot more than the other teams.” This was only compounded when Valtteri was slapped with a five place grid penalty as a result of an untimely gearbox change between FP3 and the start of qualifying.
Then came more setbacks in the race. Felipe’s progress was derailed at turn one as Kamui Kobayashi ended both his and the Brazilian’s race, halving the teams points potential in a matter of seconds. Meanwhile, Bottas was carving his way through the field, with a decidedly punchy move on Kimi Raikkonen. When he reached the back of fifth placed Fernando Alonso, the Finn suffered oversteer at turn ten, clouting the wall on the exit. After damaging the tyre, the damage done by the unscheduled stop was diminished when the Safety Car was brought out as a result of his rouge wheel rim. Regardless, his fight-back to P5 was incredible, demonstrating the FW36’s excellent fuel management, reliability and overall pace. Had it not been for the mistake, Bottas could well have finished in P2 – He would have been value for it, considering that for the large portion of the race his pace was second only to a certain Nico Rosberg who was building a half a minute advantage.
“It is a different team now,” Bottas acknowledged, “Now we have more points than last year and the car is so much quicker compared to the others.” With Bottas and Massa behind the wheel of an excellent, well-rounded car, podiums and perhaps race victories will come. Mercedes are clear at the front, but I would agree with Bottas that their is definitely more to come from a Williams team who are re-energised, re-vitalised and reformed.