Maldonado believes car is ‘undriveable’

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Williams driver Pastor Maldonado has labelled his car as being “undriveable” following his Q1 exit in qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix.

“The car is undriveable at the moment and we need to work. That’s it.

“I think we’re back to the condition of two years ago in the team. We need to work very hard to solve the problems.”

Maldonado finished seventeenth in the first qualifying session as he struggled in the wet conditions. The session was delayed by thirty minutes due to the wet weather before the drivers were eventually allowed out on track.

Conditions improved throughout the session with the drivers setting their quickest times on the intermediate tire. For Maldonado though, the wet weather only added to his struggles.

“For whatever reason, we didn’t adapt our car to this track, whatever the conditions. In the wet we were slow, in the dry as well.

“The pace for tomorrow seems to be much better but qualifying pace is really bad.”

Valtteri Bottas did manage to get into Q2 by three-tenths, and he will be pleased with his pace in the wet conditions. He was the only rookie driver to get through the first session, and beating teammate Maldonado on debut is a fine achievement. This is the first time since the 2011 Brazilian Grand Prix that Maldonado has been eliminated in Q1.

The completion of qualifying has been delayed until tomorrow morning due to the adverse weather conditions.

Lauda labels Verstappen USGP penalty ‘the worst I’ve ever seen’

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Mercedes Formula 1 non-executive chairman Niki Lauda has called the FIA stewards’ decision to penalize Max Verstappen for his last-lap pass on Kimi Raikkonen in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix as “the worst I’ve ever seen”.

Verstappen charged from 16th on the grid to take third place from Raikkonen on the last lap after a stunning fight through the field, completing the fightback with a bold pass in the final sector.

However, the stewards stripped Verstappen of P3 after he appeared to put all four wheels off the circuit when riding the kerb to pass Raikkonen, causing outcry in the F1 community.

Speaking to reporters after the race in Austin, Lauda condemned the stewards’ decision, slamming them for interfering in the late fight.

“We had meetings at the start of the year to see how far stewards should go in decisions during a race because it always says ‘under investigation’,” Lauda said, as quoted by Crash.net.

“So we complained about that and we agreed all together that the stewards would not interfere – very simple.

“If the driver goes over another and upside down, only then would they weigh in. That was at the beginning of last year.

“For six months it was OK, but this decision was the worst I’ve ever seen. He did nothing wrong.”

Lauda said F1 team bosses would discuss stewarding at the next Strategy Group meeting, which is due to be held in the next two weeks.

“These are racing drivers. We are not on the normal roads and it is ridiculous to destroy the sport with these kind of decisions,” Lauda said.

“At the next strategy meeting, we will put it back on the agenda and start all over again, because we cannot do that.

“They go too far and interfere and there was nothing to interfere with. It was normal overtaking.”