Pastor Maldonado thinks Williams has Red Bull and McLaren in its sights after he produced the surprise performance of the Australian Grand Prix.
The Venezuelan crashed out in Melbourne on the final lap as he tried to harry Fernando Alonso for fifth place, but he had already done enough in the race to show how big a step forward Williams has made over the winter. With the team now knowing just how competitive its Renault-powered FW34 is, Maldonado says ambitions have moved up a level.
"Next weekend [in Malaysia] will be interesting for everybody," he said. "The McLaren and Red Bull look strong, but we are not that far behind.
"I was close to [Mark] Webber in the first and second stint – a little bit quicker in the first but just losing a little bit in the second. So we are there. I think we are faster than Ferrari, plus quicker than Sauber and Force India as well."
Although Maldonado's last-lap accident, allied to Bruno Senna's troubled race, meant Williams left the opening race with no points, the former GP2 champion reckons the team is still heading to Malaysia with a spring in its step.
"The team is confident," he said. "We need some points, but at the same time we are more relaxed now because we did a pretty good job. We've been pushing so hard to get this car more competitive. I think everybody is surprised by our pace, even more in the race than in qualifying.
"And there is even more we can improve. I think we have a pretty good base to start the season with, but I am not surprised. The car looked consistent and quick on high fuel in testing."