Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado will start tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix from top ten grid positions after today’s qualifying for the first race of the season at Albert Park.
Melbourne’s notoriously fickle weather meant rapidly cooling ambient and track temperatures over the course of the three qualifying sessions, which saw Romain end up with the ninth fastest time, 1min 28.560secs, and Pastor tenth quickest with a 1min 29.480secs lap.
Romain Grosjean, E23-02: “I’m really happy to be back in Q3, and especially happy for our guys who have been working so hard over the last twelve months. We knew we had a good car from winter testing and today we are more or less where we thought we could be. It’s a tight field and if I had sneaked another two tenths from my lap, I would have been seventh on the grid. I think we can generally be very happy with what we’ve been doing. Our long runs have looked good so far so let’s see what we can do during the race tomorrow.”
Pastor Maldonado, E23-03: “Getting into the top ten is a pretty good result for us and it’s positive to think that it could have been better as we did lose a little pace in the final qualifying session. Looking to the race it’s quite encouraging as we’re starting the season in a much better place than we were last year so it’s all looking very promising. Fingers crossed, we’re looking to have a good race tomorrow.”
Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director: "Our plan was to get both of our cars into Q3 and we achieved it, although our expectations had shifted somewhat as a little bit higher up the order was possible. But we’re by no means unhappy with where we are. Still, there was a reasonably significant temperature variation during the course of qualifying and we did seem to suffer from this slightly more relative to our opposition as the track and air temperature cooled.
Our race looks to be against the Toro Rossos and the Red Bulls and the race pace simulations we ran on Friday seem to suggest we could be in for a good fight with them tomorrow. It could well be an interesting race."