Williams remain second in the pecking order behind Mercedes 20 March, 2014 Williams remain one of the current favourites in 2014 Formula 1 World Championship, despite huge dollops of bad luck in Melbourne. Piloted by Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas, the new Mercedes-powered FW36 was a standout of the winter season, but it struggled in the wet Qualifying session last weekend. In the race, Massa was punted out at the first corner while Bottas finished sixth, fighting through the pack after hitting the wall and damaging a wheel. Pat Symonds says that the Finn should thank former team driver Pastor Maldonado for the robustness of the car’s suspension. “Our suspension is very strong,” Williams’ technical boss told Auto Motor und Sport. “Pastor pushed the limits very often in the past and that probably had an influence on the design.” Symonds said that if Massa and Bottas had had clean races, they would have set their sights on the podium. Ex Formula 1 driver Mika Salo told Finnish broadcaster MTV3: “Williams’ car is the second fastest after Mercedes.” According to Turun Sanomat newspaper, Mercedes chief Toto Wolff agrees: “If their weekend had gone normally, most likely they would have been driving for the podium.” Asked if Williams can now challenge every single team except Mercedes, Symonds insisted: “I want to beat Mercedes as well. “Our view is that Mercedes is at the front, and then there is a group of cars, and we feel that in optimal conditions, we are narrowly at the front of that group.” (GMM) Subbed by AJN. Reports on GrandPrix247.com by: staff & contributors, Reuters syndication, GMM service, Formula 1 teams, sponsors & organisations.