Williams targets Red Bull and Ferrari with FRIC removed
Williams is confident it can take the battle to Red Bull and Ferrari over the rest of the season as it vies for second place in the constructors' championship.
After podiums at the last two races, Williams has closed within three points of Ferrari and 65 of Red Bull, while looking like the best of the rest behind Mercedes. After a slow start to the season, both Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas are confident they can continue to challenge their rivals at the coming races.
"We didn't bring pieces that were making the car a lot quicker," Massa said of recent races. "I think we brought pieces that made the car feel different, so I think that shows that we are doing a good job with the development, but it shows also at the last three races that we were stronger than Red Bull and Ferrari.
"If you see that at the last three races - we were better than Red Bull and Ferrari in terms of pace - why cannot we fight with them [in the championship]? What will happen? We don't know. But at the moment we are three points behind Ferrari and in front of Force India and McLaren, so we need to keep fighting to stay in front. Red Bull is a bit far, but you never know because we have many points in the championship."
Both drivers believe the effective ban on FRIC suspension systems expected this weekend will help their team against its better-funded rivals.
"It'll still be very difficult to fight for the win," Bottas said. "Mercedes is still quite a bit ahead, even with everything that will happen with the FRIC. They're still going to be ahead and our aim is to move up in the constructors' and our aim is to beat Red Bull and Ferrari. We have seen at some races recently we have the second quickest car, so we need to aim to be consistent at every race this season.
"Our guess is that some of the big teams have more developed systems than us, so that suggests that for us there will be less penalty than others. But it's difficult to say in lap time and in detail."
Asked about FRIC, Massa added: "The only thing I can say [for certain] is that it doesn't make our car much quicker using the FRIC. For sure it's positive but not a big difference. We will lose very little not using the FRIC so it can be that we get closer to these big teams. I really do believe that teams like Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull can have a system that is working better than ours, but it is very difficult to be sure about that."