Williams still expects strong race

Williams technical director Sam Michael remains hopeful that his team can still take plenty of points from the Bahrain Grand Prix despite not qualifying in the top ten

Williams still expects strong race

Rubens Barrichello and Nico Hulkenberg will start 11th and 13th today - lower than many expected given Williams' strong form in the final pre-season tests.

"We're disappointed because we thought we'd been up there," Michael told AUTOSPORT. "But given how much work we've had in the last month with getting the engine installed and getting through all of the problems, it's not bad.

"We're in the middle. We thought we could do better but given all of the new things that we've changed, but it's not too bad. There are a lot of things on the car that are far from optimised at the moment so that's encouraging."

But with Barrichello and Hulkenberg able to start on the harder tyres as they did not make it to Q3, and an unpredictable race anticipated, Michael is optimistic that Williams can still score well.

"There's definitely good opportunities because I will be amazed if there aren't DNFs," he said. "I don't think that there [will be] safety cars because it's an easy track to clear, but I think there will be a lot of breakdowns.

"We won't get to the front because the Red Bulls and the Ferraris are too strong for us at the moment. We are not far off Mercedes and McLaren in pace, so if we do something different on strategy we might be there. It's all a learning game strategy, because it's not straightforward like it used to be."

Michael also expects that Williams will make swift progress as the season goes on.

"We'll bring upgrades for Melbourne, Malaysia and Shanghai - every race," he said. "We've got a reasonably strong upgrade programme.

"But more importantly there are three or four areas that are not optimised on the car because of the lack of time that we've had. We will make progress on that pretty quickly."

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