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Williams bullish that Maldonado can fight at the front after qualifying third in Valencia

Williams is bullish that Pastor Maldonado can take the fight to Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel in the European Grand Prix, following his impressive third place on the grid

On the back of difficult races in Monaco and Canada, Williams is hopeful that Maldonado can rediscover the strong race form that helped him secure a maiden triumph in Spain last month.

When asked if he felt Maldonado could take the fight to the two cars ahead of him on the grid, Williams' chief operations engineer Mark Gillan said: "Yes. In our long run pace, certainly we have been pretty good. The issue you have got is if you don't qualify up there, it's difficult to progress in the races. But certainly we have no concerns."

Gillan said he was not too surprised that Maldonado had got himself back near the front of the grid, because he felt the full potential of the car had not been realised at the last two grands prix.

"We were frustrated the last couple of events," he said. "With the car, we had seen through the running that we had been quick, but we never actually got to demonstrate it.

"On Friday we saw that we were quick on the prime tyre. We struggled on the option. And on Saturday, looking at the balance on the car, we realised that we had to get the lap time on the options, so we adjusted the balance.

"Pastor did a really good job, he was very quick on the option and maybe struggled a bit more than he did on the prime previously, but qualifying performance is critical around here."

Gillan says that Valencia weekend has highlighted once again just how critical it is to get the most out of the tyres

"It's understanding the window that you are operating," he said. "We are building up a knowledge, as all of the teams are, of how to set the car up and this weekend more than any has shown that it's difficult.

"If any team had got it cracked then they would be consistently up there but that has not been the case and that's what makes it so interesting."

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