A free practice crash left Lance Stroll on the back foot ahead of qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix, and as such the Canadian could only qualify nineteenth on the grid, although he will take a grid penalty following a gearbox change.
The Williams Martini Racing driver went off at turn ten during practice on Saturday morning, and his mechanics worked hard to get him out for qualifying, although it meant he only had one chance to set a lap time, and ultimately it was not enough to see him progress through to the second phase of the session.
“The day started off tough and it was hard to recoup from that,” said Stroll. “What happened in FP3 was a little touch and it led to a lot of things.
“The qualifying session was in a rush and we didn’t get to do what we had planned. However, the team did a great job to get me out in qualifying so a big thank you to them.
“I think we have to forget about today, especially as our pace was much better than that, and in FP2 we were over half a second quicker than in qualifying.”
Stroll hopes to move forward during Sunday’s race, and will try and work out what strategy will be best for him to do so, but wants to put the memories of his first qualifying day in Formula 1 behind him.
“Obviously it is a long race and, played intelligently, we can do something but we will work that out tonight and see about tomorrow,” said Stroll. “I now want to put the day behind me and move on to the race, which will be interesting starting from the back.”
Paddy Lowe, Williams’ new Chief Technical Officer, felt Stroll’s crash left him with too much to do in qualifying, although he was happy that the mechanics worked hard to repair the damaged car in the brief interval between practice and qualifying.
“Unfortunately it wasn’t a great day for Lance with his accident in FP3,” said Lowe. “It really set his whole day off to a bad start, from which it was difficult to recover.
“There was a lot of work needed on the car; we changed the entire back end as well as most of the front suspension. The team worked very hard to get the car ready for qualifying but there was only time for him to get one run in the first session.
“Under huge pressure and with not very much practice in the car in any sort of qualifying format I think that Lance did a good job to get that time on the board.”