MONTREAL (AFP) - Finnish rookie Valtteri Bottas delivered joy and shock in equal measures on Saturday when he stunned the Formula One paddock and delighted his Williams team by qualifying in third place for Sunday's Canadian Grand Prix.
The 23-year-old from Nastola, in only his seventh Grand Prix, felt he had achieved a great feat by progressing to the top ten shootout for the first time.
But in treacherous wet and slippery conditions, he then went out and outpaced many far more experienced drivers from the leading teams to thrill the Williams team, who are without a point this season.
"This means a lot," said Bottas. "So much. It's way more up in the grid than we could have imagined.
"The first six races have been so difficult, so this will be a nice boost for the team. We got everything just right today." His team boss Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams, who has had a tough time since a promotion to her current role earlier this year, beamed with pleasure.
She said: "Valtteri did such a brilliant job. I can't tell you how excited everyone is. It's only P3, but it's so exiting considering the season we have had.
"It means a lot to everyone at Williams. Valtteri is so consistent, those lap times, it's continuous. Even in the wet, he held it together, he's fantastic." Until Saturday's rain-hit qualifying session at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Bottas's best qualifying performance had been in taking 14th place on the grid at the Monaco Grand Prix two weeks ago.
Williams added: "In Monaco, we found a way forward with the front of the car in particular.
"Since the drivers got here, they feel better about the car. There's a better balance, and a better set up so let's hope this is the start for better things this season." His best finish in a race was 11th in the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang in March.