Bottas and Maldonado certain Williams has taken big steps forward

Williams duo Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas are confident that they have the car needed to challenge near the front in Formula 1 this season given the team's winter improvement

Bottas and Maldonado certain Williams has taken big steps forward

After completing the final test at Barcelona over the weekend, both men are adamant that the Grove-based outfit has made good progress over the winter to put itself in a strong position for 2013, despite only bringing out its new car for test two.

Speaking at a media event at Williams's factory on Tuesday, Maldonado said: "I am quite happy about the tests, because we had four less days than the other teams [and it looks promising] if you compare our results since we had [the new car].

"The car is quite good. There is a great feeling - and I think and I hope it is quick."

Bottas, who is starting his first season as an F1 racer, said: "There is a nice feeling with the car.

"The first time I went out, with the first proper run, you could feel the improvements in the car from last year.

"It feels like a different car. I think we understand it now quite well. So, so far so good."

Maldonado believes that one thing that has helped the team over the winter is that he and Bottas have worked together so well, and he thinks it vital they keep pushing in the same direction to help Williams move up the constructors' order.

"Valtteri is a nice guy and, apart from that, he is a great driver as well," explained the Venezuelan. "He has been testing for us last year and he has been very important in everything with the new car as well.

"We are working in the same direction, which is very important for our engineers, to [help them] keep the same direction, and it is a great atmosphere.

"We are good friends and we need to do our best to keep the team at the top."

Williams won the Spanish Grand Prix last year but lost good opportunities to add further strong results and only managed to finish eighth in the constructors' championship.

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