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Bottas eyes long Williams future

GP Week
August 14, 2012 « Ferrari helped by weather so far - Fry | McLaren 'closer' to new Hamilton contract »
Valtteri Bottas has been gaining a lot of track time with Williams, also taking part in the Young Driver Test © Sutton Images
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Williams' third driver Valtteri Bottas says he's ready to step up to a race seat, and hopes to build a long-term career with the British team.

The Finn was ninth fastest in his last practice session in Hungary, taking Bruno Senna's car and setting a dry weather lap 1.3 seconds behind pacesetter Lewis Hamilton. It was Bottas' eighth Friday appearance this year, and he's beaten team-mate Pastor Maldonado's best laptime on five of those occasions, including at the Hungaroring.

"It was a good day for us and I was lucky with the weather. I'm improving every session, and I think I didn't expect to be on the pace so quickly," Bottas told GPWeek. "It's good that I can match [Maldonado] and sometimes beat him, and there's a lot more to come if I get to drive more."

The 22-year-old, who lives near the Williams factory in Oxford, signed with the team in 2010 before winning last year's GP3 championship. With this year focused on his role as a reserve, and taking 15 of the 20 Friday practice sessions from Senna, he's itching to step up to a coveted race seat. Waiting patiently, he says, is not easy.

"I've raced all my life, basically. For sure, I would like to race next year. Now is the time to learn and hopefully races come at some point. It's what I'm pushing for."

Ideally, he says, the opportunity to race will come with Williams, and admits he is working to try and bring more sponsorship to the team as both Maldonado and Senna do.

"I really enjoying working with these people, and Williams has a great history. I feel at home here. The ideal would be to stay here and I hope for a long career with Williams ... It helps if you have some financial backing, and of course we're pushing for that."

Maldonado won the Spanish Grand Prix in May, marking Williams' first win since 2003. Williams has previously won seven drivers' and nine constructors' titles, but had been in the doldrums for the past decade. Since Spain, the team has struggled to score more points. Bottas says that's not the fault of the car.

"We're improving and we're understanding the car much more than at the beginning of the year. If we keep pushing I think we can still score some proper points. I think we've been really unlucky the last few weekends. I think we could have got more points if we'd got everything right."