Felipe Massa finished ninth and Valtteri Bottas 15th for tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix in a changeable qualifying session at Albert Park. Both cars looked competitive in the dry conditions, but struggled for grip in the wet on the Intermediate tyre. Valtteri had to change his gearbox at the end of FP3, so will take a five place grid penalty after finishing P10 in Q3.
Rod Nelson, Chief Test & Support Engineer:
It was a very up and down qualifying session with changeable weather conditions which ended up hurting us. We had a reasonably straightforward Q1 and Q2, but did not make the most out of our Intermediate tyres towards the end of Q3 and so didn’t get the sort of times on our final runs that we would have expected. On the whole this has been a promising start though and we have looked on the pace, especially in the dry. We don’t expect rain tomorrow so that should help Felipe and Valtteri gain positions and we will be looking to get both cars home in the points.
Getting both cars into Q3 is a step forward for the team compared to last season, but we definitely had a car capable of finishing higher up the grid today. The car was feeling good in the dry in FP3 and Q1, but on the wet track we were struggling with downforce in the rear of the car and these conditions probably hurt us more than others. The race could be very unpredictable tomorrow with reliability important, so we need to work hard to make sure that we have no problems with the car and use our stronger dry pace to make up some good positions.
The changeable conditions were very tricky for everyone today and on the whole I am a bit disappointed with finishing P10 in Q3. We had the raw pace to finish further up, but struggled to get the Intermediate and Wet tyres to work properly. But we should take a positive from getting both cars through to Q3 as it has been a while since that has happened. It’s a shame that we have had to change my gearbox as our reliability has looked so good in testing, but our dry pace has looked quite strong so if the weather is good then we will have a good chance of finishing in the points tomorrow.
Subbed by AJN.