Pastor Maldonado gave both his team and the race stewards some extra work to do today in Monte Carlo as he managed to heavily damage his car before qualifying and earn himself a ten-place grid penalty.
The penalty came during Free Practice 3 when he appeared to turn into Sauber driver Sergio Perez – stewards ruled that the Venezuelan had caused the incident. Just a few corners later, Maldonado made heavy contact with the unforgiving Armco barriers that line this prestigious Monaco circuit, damanaging both his front wing, and his rear suspension.
This crash left Williams in a race against time to get Maldonado’s car repaired for qualifying, but the Spanish Grand Prix winner took ninth place.
Since qualifying, the team have also changed the gear box in Maldonado’s car, which will result in an additional five-place grid penalty – he will start tomorrow’s race from the very back of the grid.
Team-mate Bruno Senna had a much less eventful day, qualifying fourteenth.
“It has been a tough and busy day for the team with both cars not finishing qualifying as high as we would have liked,” said Mark Gillan, Chief Operations Engineer at Williams. “Pastor picked up heavy damage to his car in FP3 and the car crew did a fantastic job to do the repairs in time for the start of the first session of qualifying.
“Despite the ninth (prior to penalty) and 14th qualifying positions for Pastor and Bruno respectively, our analysis shows that a top five qualifying position was achievable for us today.”
“Everything was quite tight today,” added Maldonado. “We were on the pace and looking good for a top five position but I came across traffic on what would have been my best lap. My second Q3 lap was a bit slower as we lost a bit of grip from the car and tyres. It’s going to be difficult tomorrow with the penalties, but I will do my best and we’ll see.”
Senna was not happy with his performance today, given that qualifying is regarded as more important in Monaco than at any other track.
“I am disappointed with qualifying,” said the Brazilian. “The car definitely had a good lap in it but unfortunately I just pushed too hard and the laptime didn’t come to me.
“I’m frustrated with myself but we know we have a strong car so now we just have to see what we can do tomorrow. You never know what can happen in Monaco but it’s always easier if you can start further up the grid.“