Williams deputy team principal Claire Williams is trying to take the positives out of the team’s Q1 exit today in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix, believing that the tight field is to blame for the result.
Twelve months ago, Pastor Maldonado started the race from pole position, but he could only qualify 18th today, one place behind teammate Valtteri Bottas. Although Williams is not pleased with the result, she does not believe that a crisis is ensuing.
“This isn’t quite 2012 is it?” Williams said to Sky Sports. “It is really disappointing.
“We are still trying to get on top of the situation and a lot of work is going on back at the factory. It takes a long time to turn things around in Formula 1,” she explained.
The result will come as a great blow to the team, especially after spending much of the three week break working on upgrades for the FW35, but Williams still has faith that the car is capable of some good results.
“I don’t think it is an inherently bad race car, it is just that the field is so tight at the minute and we were just a tenth away from getting both drivers into Q2.”
Bottas did finish just 0.042 seconds behind Esteban Gutierrez, yet the result is still a disastrous one for the team. Unlike McLaren, who are suffering from correlation issues, Williams have been struggling with their aerodynamic set up.
“I am not sure it is necessarily a correlation issue. We just really need to look at the aerodynamics of the car and it is a work in progress.”
Undoubtedly, there will be an inquiry into the team’s performance in qualifying today, although they will take hope from Bottas’ spirited race runs so far this season.
Carlos Sainz Jr. has been airlifted to hospital after a big crash during the final free practice session for the Russian Grand Prix on Saturday morning.
Under braking at turn 13, Sainz lost the backend of his Toro Rosso car, causing him to hit the left-hand wall before slamming into the TecPro barrier at the end of the run-off area.
The session was immediately red flagged as medical crews tended to Sainz, taking 20 minutes to extricate him from the Toro Rosso car due to how it had pitched under the barrier.
FIA media delegate Matteo Bonciani told reporters: “The driver is conscious and is still in the process of being extricated. When we know something, we will let you know.”
After being extricated from the car, Sainz was taken away on a stretcher before being placed in an ambulance, giving a thumbs up to let fans know that he was okay. He is also reported to have been talking to doctors in the medical centre after the crash.
Sainz has now been airlifted to hospital for further checks, and is set to miss qualifying later today, with Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost telling BBC Sport: “To sit him in the car immediately seems a bit risky, but we will wait and see.”
The damage caused to the TecPro barrier has also caused the planned GP3 race to be cancelled, giving the track workers time to carry out repairs ahead of the F1 qualifying session later today.
Qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 8am ET on Saturday.
Nico Rosberg set the pace in final practice for the Russian Grand Prix on Saturday morning as the session was called early following a heavy crash for Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz Jr.
With 25 minutes remaining, the session was stopped when Sainz slammed into the wall at turn 13, pitching in under the TecPro barrier at the fastest point of the circuit.
A loss of power on the car meant that Toro Rosso could not make contact with its driver, causing concern as the medical crew was sent to the crash site to tend to Sainz.
Replays showed that Spaniard lost the back-end of his car under braking coming into turn 13, causing him to hit the wall on the left-hand side of the track before travelling down the track and into the wall at the end of the high-speed straight.
After being extricated from the car, Sainz was shown on TV cameras to be moving around on a stretcher, giving a thumbs up before being placed into an ambulance.
“The driver is conscious and is still in the process of being extricated,” FIA media chief Matteo Bonciani told reporters. “When we know something, we will let you know.”
Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost added: “As far as I am informed, he is conscious. He is now with the doctor. I think that he is so far okay.”
With qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix due to start in just two hours’ time, it is unlikely that Sainz will be able to take part in the session, with Tost believing it to be “too risky”.
The amount of damage caused to the barrier could also result in delays across the course of Saturday’s running, with GP3 scheduled to race before the F1 qualifying session. The early sunset in Sochi could also cause problems towards the end of the day.