SPA, Belgium, Aug 21, 2014 (AFP) - Valtteri Bottas believes his much-improved Mercedes-powered Williams team have their best opportunity of the season at this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix.
As Formula One returns from its annual August holiday, four weeks after the Hungarian Grand Prix where Daniel Ricciardo claimed a surprise victory for Red Bull, the two Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton will continue their almost private duel for the title.
But the intensity of the battle to catch and, at some circuits, challenge them for victory will increase as the tension rises in the closing eight races of the 19-round season starting at the majestic old Belgian track in the forests of the Ardennes.
"I think in theory Spa, and Monza, should be the next really good ones for us, maybe the best opportunities of the season," said Finnish driver Bottas.
"But we need to aim to be strong in other places and we can't just rely on our good top speed."
Bottas believes that the power advantage provided by the Mercedes engines, and an efficient aerodynamic package, will enable the Williams cars to be extremely competitive in Belgium and Italy and a threat to both the Mercedes factory team and Red Bull, whose Renault engines this year have been disappointing.
Bottas' view is supported by that of Williams performance boss Rob Smedley who said: "Both tracks will suit our car very well -- mainly due to the fact
the power sensitivity at those tracks is very high. Every horsepower you have is worth more there than at other tracks.
"We know our car is very strong in these areas. Additionally, I think at somewhere like Spa, with harder compounds, it can sometimes be quite difficult to get the tyres turned on and I think our car can do that."
If all that spells problems for the Mercedes men, they are unlikely to show it and are sure to give the fans a strong showing whatever the weather at Spa-Francorchamps, where a capricious micro-climate can often produce rain and sunshine simultaneously at different places.
Felipe Massa, who has started to show strong form at Williams, also believes a victory is possible.
"I think it won't be easy, but it's not impossible," he said. "Maybe at a few of these tracks we can have more chance."