April 20th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - In an era in which lap times are measured to thousandths of a second, it is extremely unusual for drivers to post identical times. But it happened in qualifying today, when Williams drivers Bottas and Maldonado set exactly the same time in Q1. Unfortunately for Williams, only Bottas progressed to Q2, as he set the time first and Maldonado was classified 17th in the session.
Williams continue to struggle for pace after a disappointing start to the season, and will be greatly looking forward to returning to their Grove factory to work on improvements to their car. But before that happens, there is the matter of tomorrow's Bahrain Grand Prix to deal with.
Bottas will start the race 15th after progressing to Q2 in qualifying. Maldonado will line up 17th, having been eliminated in Q1. Instead of looking at the negatives, Maldonado reflected after qualifying that he had the advantage of an extra set of fresh tyres for the race, which could help him to make up some time tomorrow.
Unfortunately for Williams, it will take some special driving to get the cars into the points from 15th and 17th on the grid.
This is what the team had to say after qualifying:
Mike Coughlan, Technical Director: "Following practice this morning, our long run pace was looking better against the competition so our focus this afternoon was to just get into Q2. We ran new option tyres in Q1 on both cars to give us the best chance, but unfortunately we didn’t quite manage this with Pastor, despite both drivers posting identical times. The times were extremely close, with Valtteri just 0.4 seconds off Q3, so there was a chance we could have achieved more. Now we need to look to tomorrow and concentrate on our long run performance, and getting the best strategy for the race."
Valtteri Bottas: "I had a bit of traffic in Q1 so I was quite lucky to get through given that one or two tenths can be the difference between progressing to Q2 or not. I put a good lap together in Q2, the best lap I’ve driven here this weekend, so I’m pleased about that. I feel I got everything out of the car today but tomorrow will be a long race in these conditions, so I will be ready to challenge right from the start."
Pastor Maldonado: "I have an extra set of tyres which is positive for tomorrow, and we are working together as a team to look at what we can do in the race. Qualifying 17th is a bit disappointing, but we are realistic with our targets at the moment. We are trying to do our best from the track and at the factory, and we are working to have a better qualifying performance soon."