Bottas, Gutierrez face tough task after missing Q2 cut

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By failing to advance out of Q1 on Saturday, Valtteri Bottas of Williams and Esteban Gutierrez of Sauber will have their work cut out for them for Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.

Bottas, who qualified 17th, continued a grim record so far this season for Williams, which has lost a driver in each opening qualifying round in 2013. As for Gutierrez, he’ll start 18th after failing to move into Q2 for the second time this season.

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“We left the run quite late in Q1 as everyone else also left it late before heading back out and we were waiting for the track conditions to improve,” said Bottas. “However, with only one lap to get everything right, it was quite a difficult situation. The wind conditions made it tricky to get the perfect lap as I was trying to push hard and it’s a new experience for me to have to put everything together in just one lap.”

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Gutierrez called his qualifying result “disappointing,” especially considering that he felt he had the speed to break into Q2. His veteran teammate, Nico Hulkenberg, wound up charging all the way into Q3 before opting to take no time in the final round in order to save tires.

“It was very challenging to put a first quick lap together with only one chance,” Gutierrez said. “It is very critical and I was trying to push a little too hard and ended up making a small mistake, which cost us a lot. I will improve on that side and make sure everything I am doing in the car is very precise…The speed, which shows the potential of the car, is motivating, but we still need to put everything together, and that includes from my side.”

Brown: Dennis would have made same decision on McLaren-Honda split

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Zak Brown believes former McLaren team boss Ron Dennis would have made the same decision to cut ties with struggling Formula 1 engine partner Honda had he still been in charge at the team in 2017.

McLaren executive director Brown helped engineer a deal for the team to split with Honda at the end of the 2017 season after three tough seasons that had seen the Japanese manufacturer offer little in the way of performance or reliability.

The decision split opinion, with McLaren spurning a significant annual financial injection from Honda in order to link up with Renault, believing its on-track fortunes had to be prioritized over its commercial interests.

In an interview with Sky Sports, Brown was asked if he believed Dennis – McLaren’s long-running team chief before stepping down at the end of 2016 – would have made the same decision to cut ties with Honda.

“I think he would have,” Brown said.

“He was here when those conversations were ongoing and I think Ron always has and always will have the best interests of McLaren in his heart.

“He is Mr. McLaren. It burns him inside as much as us not to see us winning races.”

Brown also elaborated on the decision to break off the much-lauded relationship with Honda, saying the first signs of trouble with the 2017 power unit were clear in pre-season.

After a number of attempts to try and rectify the situation, Brown and his fellow team bosses felt there was no alternative but to end the Honda deal for 2018.

“We knew we were in trouble in testing in Barcelona and we worked really hard for six months to try and find solutions that would give us confidence that we’d be much more competitive in 2018,” Brown said.

“Ultimately, after trying many different things and many different ways we felt we couldn’t get there.

“Three years is a long time in Formula 1 and so we needed to change the direction to get our team back at the top.”