Romain Grosjean recovered from a challenging start to the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend to comfortably make Q3 for the fourth time this season, eventually taking tenth, while Pastor Maldonado had a setback as he qualified in 16th.
After regularly running in the top ten for most of the three practice sessions, culminating in seventh in the final session, a problem with the front brake circuit of Pastor’s E23 Hybrid compromised his qualifying.
“We had a problem unfortunately and weren't able to get the maximum pace from the car, meaning that it felt like we were lacking in power,” he said. “It’s not the end of the world as we should be able to fix the problem so we can focus on recovering positions through the race.”
“We have enough tyres to do a different strategy and have showed good potential on both long and short runs throughout the weekend. The pace is there and points are definitely possible so let’s do our best as always.”
It meant Romain was the solo driver in the second session after securing 12th in the first. The Frenchman continued to improve as qualifying went on, grabbing fifth early on before taking seventh at the end of Q2.
A tightly contested third qualifying session saw Romain take tenth in the best session of the weekend for the Frenchman.
“I wasn’t happy until qualifying and then suddenly things improved which was a good surprise,” he said. “I’m really proud of the team and what they achieved between FP3 and qualifying today.
“From our runs so far this weekend, I was expecting to go out earlier so to achieve Q3 for the fourth time in a row feels very good.”
“I’m actually slightly disappointed, I think we could have placed higher but we were lacking a little bit of grip. Tomorrow is all about the rear tyres – as opposed to China, where it was all about the fronts. We’ll be careful, prepare a car that’s well balanced and then we’ll see what it brings.”
His team-mate also talked about tyre potential and while starting further down the grid, the Venezuelan is confident he can make progress towards the top ten.
“We have enough tyres to do a different strategy and have showed good potential on both long and short runs throughout the weekend,” he said. “We were expecting to be in the top ten after the potential we’ve shown this weekend. The car is very consistent in the long runs and quick also, so we can try for the points.”
After Pastor started so strongly in Bahrain, the shoe was on the other foot as Romain overcame his early weekend issues and Trackside Operations Director Alan Permane believes there’s potential for tomorrow.
Romain did a great job through qualifying after we struggled to get his car working for him earlier in the weekend,” he said. “His pace through Q1 and Q2 was such that we considered a riskier qualifying strategy.”
“He didn’t quite get the optimal Q3 lap but P10 on the grid certainly isn’t the end of the world as there’s good potential. Pastor, in contrast, had a really strong weekend until qualifying when a sensor-related issue from us hampered his effort by denying him full power on his crucial qualifying lap.”
Alan believes the two differing qualifying performances throws up two unique challenges in tomorrow’s race, but is comfortable the team can succeed on both fronts.
“With Romain we’re looking to move up the top ten as much as possible, whilst with Pastor we have the opportunity to make strong progress through the field as his race pace should be superior to that of quite a few cars ahead of him.”
“It will be two very different challenges, with good opportunities for both drivers to score well.”