Pastor Maldonado is confident that Williams' improved qualifying pace will carry forward into race day in Australia, after taking eighth on the grid for the Melbourne season-opener.
Last year Williams often fell back in grands prix even when it had qualified well, and it ended the season mired in ninth in the constructors' standings with just five points to its name. But the team's hopes of a 2012 resurgence were boosted when it ran well in testing and saw Maldonado reach Q3 in the year's first qualifying session. The Venezualan sees no reason why the race cannot deliver more encouragement, too.
"When the gaps are very close like this, with high fuel it gets even more compact," said Maldonado. "The car has looked consistent even on high fuel so it's all about strategy and everything.
"There's everything to discover because we have some data from the winter tests but you never know what time people did long runs and how much fuel they were carrying so it's always difficult to evaluate. But the car is much stronger than last year and it's consistent – the most important thing is to be consistent."
Maldonado added that his qualifying result came as no surprise.
"I was expecting that," he said. "I don't know if the team was expecting it from free practice, but my engineers on my side of Williams and I have been pushing so hard on the setup and everything, just to be more competitive.
"We saw that the gaps are very close. Now everything is very important. With the gaps so close, the driver can make the difference, especially to get into Q3. I did my best today."
Teammate Bruno Senna will start 14th, and admitted he did not get the best out of the car.
"I struggled this morning and this afternoon with the soft tires. I had very scruffy runs with the soft tires," said Senna. "The only non-scruffy run with soft tires was in Q2, but that was below the limit because of all the scruffy runs I had before.
"I know I didn't take everything out of the car, and that's very disappointing. At the end of the day, if you over-drive in qualifying, you can beat yourself up a little bit, but if you under-drive, that's not ideal."