Q: Valtteri, are you delighted with how qualifying went?
Valtteri Bottas: Yes, it was a good qualifying. Running was trickier in the afternoon than in the morning because of the wind so it was not so easy to get a great lap together, but that went for everybody. The building up in qualifying was without issues. I had two sets of tyres in Q3 and a good couple of runs – the second being better. In the first running of Q3 I took probably a bit too much out of the tyres in the first two sectors so lost out in the last sector with the tyres giving up, so the second run was better as I paced myself a bit more. I am happy how it went: it is a good starting point for tomorrow. I hope we have some fun and split the Ferraris! (laughs)
Q: You are closer to Ferrari – did you expect that?
VB: You always hope to close to the gap to the people in front. The last time we've been so close I think was in Melbourne, so this clearly shows that we've not fallen back. Felipe [Massa] went a bit wide in Q3 so I believe we both would have been up there with the Ferraris.
Q: What have Williams brought for this weekend?
VB: Small bits – but it seems all the others haven't brought significantly more when you look at the pecking order. For us, we will bring more for the next couple of races.
Q: Is the car that you have here the best that you have had so far this season?
VB: The improvements that we've brought are quite small: it's a different track, different compounds and different conditions, so it is hard to say. But definitely it the best car when you look at the timesheet, really.
Q: Have both compounds worked for you so far this weekend?
VB: I am happy that the mediums work better than in the past, but I think that with the hard compounds it will be difficult for everybody tomorrow in the race. But of course you have to use them as well at some point. I think we've really made progress in how we operate the tyres with the temperatures. We are not giving up anything on the tyres.
Q: So can you challenge Sebastian Vettel on Sunday?
VB: I will try. We will fight for every single position that is possible. Personally I will try to take any opportunity. Once you've gained a position here it is easier to keep it than let's say in Bahrain. Overtaking here is a bit difficult.
Q: Why have you been struggling to get the option tyres working this season? It wasn't as big an issue last year…
VB: There are different aero parts on the car and different parts on the brakes - and all these things affect how much temperature from the brakes goes to the tyres. We've just been a little bit out of range at the beginning of the season. We thought that we would be good but reality bit us. It didn't show at the tests as they were too cold – but since we are racing under significantly higher temperatures the problems have showed. But we are making progress.
Q: Williams had hoped to be the second force on the grid this season. So far it hasn't happened. Now we hear that [Williams technical director] Pat Symonds is not here this weekend, he will not attend the test here next week and he will not be in Monaco. Is he brewing something in Grove to help you reach this elusive place in the pecking order?
VB: He always knows what to do and always has a reason not to go to a race – or to go. He has seen that at the races we can operate as a team in a professional way and as the development happens at the factory he obviously feels that he is more in demand there. Of course he wants to improve our position this year – so yes, maybe he is brewing over something.
Q: When will the result of his efforts show?
VB: We know that more updates are coming at the next few races – not necessarily for Monaco, but Canada or Austria. I do not expect any massive changes – probably just like last year where we sneaked our way to the front and were always fighting for the podiums. Hopefully we can pull the same off again, even though it looks more difficult this year with Ferrari being stronger now than Red Bull were last year.
Q: There are still a lot of rumours around your future. Any news to report? Is that distracting you?
VB: I think rumours are a normal F1 side effect. And it leaves me totally unaffected. I do my thing – and do it with the team.
Q: How are you physically? Have the back issues vanished?
VB: Yes, I have no issues with my back. I feel good in the car - and the good race in Bahrain also smoothed things on the psychological side!