Valtteri Bottas has revealed that Williams were targeting Mercedes for victory at Sochi until being left astonished by the pace of the W05 Hybrids in the 53 lap Russian Grand Prix.
Williams had looked strong all weekend with Bottas missing out on pole position by running wide at the final corner in qualifying. Based on his strong pace in Friday simulations, the Grove based outfit were optimistic of fighting for their first victory since 2012.
However, Lewis Hamilton in the lead Mercedes could cruise home to win the race while Nico Rosberg in the other W05 Hybrid also managed to leapfrog Bottas, after falling at the back of the pack for an early pitstop.
Nevertheless, Bottas took his fifth podium in seven races to help Williams extend its lead over Ferrari in F1 constructors standings.
“We went into the race today with the mentality that we were going to fight Mercedes for the win,’’ said Bottas. “But their pace in the race surprised us a bit and in the end we need to be satisfied with third place and another podium.
“I was keeping pace with Hamilton at the beginning but in the middle of my first stint the rear tyres started to go away and that allowed him to create a gap. In the second stint I didn’t realise Rosberg was quite as close as he was and his move caught me a bit by surprise, but he had more pace at that point anyway as my prime tyres were taking a good ten laps to switch on so he would have caught me regardless. I was closing in the final laps as my tyres were getting better but he had managed to create too big a gap.”