Lotus' Romain Grosjean will start from sixteenth and Pastor Maldonado seventeenth after the first-ever night time qualifying session for the Bahrain Grand Prix. Romain pipped Pastor to the final place in Q2 but was unable to progress further than that session at the Bahrain International Circuit.
Romain Grosjean, E22-03, P16, 1:35.908: “It was tight to get to Q2. We knew beforehand that we were around the cut off, so it was great to get through. If we look at the whole weekend we've been struggling on the track. This evening the car felt more together and more driveable - of course sixteenth is not great and we're never going to be satisfied with that, but I'm happy with the way the team has been working and pushing in the right direction. We have to try things and try to understand why we are where we are and why we are not unlocking our potential. I hope the race pace will be a little bit better than the qualifying pace and then we can put up a good fight in the race.”
Pastor Maldonado, E22-01, P17, 1:36.663: “We're not here to fight for P16 and P17 so it's a bit disappointing to see ourselves where we are in qualifying at the moment. We just need to be focused and try to push even more on the development of the car to catch the people around us. At the moment it’s fair to say our car is a bit on the slow side and quite difficult to drive. However we've made an important step forwards in terms of reliability. There have been no problems this weekend which is quite positive so fingers crossed for tomorrow. For race pace we look much more competitive than in qualifying. I’m looking forward to the race and seeing what is possible.”
Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director: "We expected to struggle on pace and that’s exactly what happened. Both drivers performed superbly in a car which is currently lacking pace over a single lap. We’ve had the first weekend of good reliability – so far – so we’ve been able to understand the car much better. We understand that qualifying pace is an area we need to focus on.
"We had no particular technical issues, which has meant we’ve been able to concentrate, like yesterday, on understanding the car’s performance. Our greatest challenge has been unlocking pace in qualifying conditions. There is clearly a lot of scope for improvement in this area and that is where we will have a strong focus looking to the next race.
"Our conclusions so far this weekend are that our race pace is better in relative terms than our qualifying pace. The evening conditions suited us better today, and the race takes place in the evening so that’s a positive. We’ll be working overnight on the best strategies for both drivers and hopefully we can get some solid running tomorrow. We’re aiming to capitalise on every opportunity the race presents.