Venezuelan Maldonado left Williams with his PDVSA millions in a highly-critical mood, but Williams is now regarded as a 2014 title dark horse while Lotus is struggling merely to run its E22.
"From an aerodynamic point of view," Maldonado said in Melbourne, "the (Williams) car is very similar to what we had last year. It's the (Mercedes) engine making the difference at the moment."
Maldonado insists he has no regrets about joining Lotus just as the respective teams' fortunes switched so dramatically, and continuing Williams driver Bottas indicated he too is happy with the move.
"I believe this season is an opportunity for me to learn from a team guy a little bit more than last year," Bottas, 24, is quoted by the Finnish broadcaster MTV3.
"This year the team has a more experienced guy (Massa) and he is quite different (to Maldonado) -- a little more open and more willing to be more of a team player and to provide more information," added Bottas.
He said the sort of openness being shown by Massa is what a team needs.
"I think if you are sharing information in the team meetings and both trying to contribute to the team's performance and providing the best possible feedback -- it always helps, of course," said Bottas.
After a particularly bad 2013, Williams is emerging as a surprise force in 2014, with Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton even nominating the Grove team as his pick for the title.
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, however, said he doesn't believe Red Bull can be written off, despite the perception the reigning world champions are struggling with the new Renault 'power unit'.
"In the past we saw it many times before," he told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. "Red Bull were behind but in the end their car was usually the fastest of all.
"I think in two races they can be back at the top," Spaniard Alonso added.