June 22, 2014

SPIELBERG, Austria (AP) Even locking the front row on the grid of the Austrian Grand Prix wasn't enough for Williams to challenge Mercedes' dominance in Formula One.

Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas started 1-2 for Sunday's race but, past the halfway mark, the Mercedes pair of eventual winner Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton took the lead and stayed there.

Williams was denied its first F1 win since Pastor Maldonado's 2012 triumph at the Spanish GP but celebrated as Bottas and Massa finished third and fourth respectively.

''It was a great day for us,'' deputy team boss Claire Williams said. ''We knew it would not be easy to beat Mercedes. But it was a great weekend and we can be very proud.''

Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo ended Mercedes' six-race winning streak at the Canadian GP two weeks ago and this time it was Williams' turn to put pressure on the leading team.

Bottas edged Rosberg in the final practice Saturday, and just hours later Massa won the qualifying to earn his first pole position in six years.

The results confirmed that Williams is recovering from a disappointing 2013 F1 season when it collected just five driver points.

''It's been a long way for us since last year,'' Bottas said. ''The race was exactly what we needed at this point - clean, nice, everything went like planned, really.''

Bottas enjoyed his best-ever weekend in F1, following up on his second place in qualifying by reaching his first career podium the next day.

''I am really, really happy, and really happy for us as a team,'' the Finn said. ''We were really strong the whole weekend and that's down to all the hard work.''

The 4.3-kilometer (2.7-mile) Red Bull Ring with just nine turns and its many long straights suited Williams well.

''Of course it was a good track for us,'' Bottas said. ''But overall we are making progress. Step by step we are getting there, getting closer to the position where we belong.''

Teammate Massa was also hoping the performance this weekend will help Williams improve for the rest of the season.

Starting from pole but missing out on the podium didn't bother the Brazilian too much.

''Unfortunately it wasn't enough for the podium but it's a great result,'' Massa said. ''It was good points for the team. This can be the restart for the team toward the end of the championship.''

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