Oil Leak and Engine Penalty Relegate Williams to Back Row in Abu Dhabi


Pastor Maldonado - Photo Credit: Charles Coates/LAT Photographic
Pastor Maldonado - Photo Credit: Charles Coates/LAT Photographic

An oil leak during qualifying for Rubens Barrichello and a ten-place grid penalty for Pastor Maldonado mean that the two Williams cars will line-up alongside one another on the back row of the grid tomorrow in Abu Dhabi.

Barrichello had an engine issue during the practice session this morning which could not be resolved in time for qualifying, and hence the Brazilian could not set a time. Maldonado qualified seventeenth but, as he has now used his ninth engine of the season – one more than is permitted by the current regulations – he must now serve a ten-place grid penalty.

“It's a long race here and we need to come up with a strong strategy to get a positive result from [the back row],” said Maldonado. “We've obviously been thinking about our strategy all weekend because we've known about the grid penalty for a while now. We haven't decided 100% and we'll keep working on it tonight to make sure we give ourselves the best possible chance. I will do my best and I know the team will too. We must be confident.”

Barrichello could be competing in his penultimate grand prix this weekend as he has not yet found a drive for next season. He, however, is optimistic that his fortunes will improve tomorrow. “The team tried everything to fix the problem that we had this morning,” he explained. “Unfortunately, they weren't able to and I couldn't go out in qualifying. I fully support the team and know we will come through this smiling.”

Chief Operations Engineer Mark Gillan reflected the disappointment amongst the team after the dismal qualifying session. “That was obviously a very disappointing day for Rubens having had an engine issue disrupt his P3 running and then stop him setting a lap in qualifying,” he said. “Pastor made his way into Q2 but will take a grid penalty due to having a ninth engine fitted at the start of the weekend. Both drivers therefore start from the back but we look forward to seeing them attack in the race.”