Toyota duo Timo Glock and Jarno Trulli will begin the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne this weekend from the back row of the grid after being disqualified from qualifying over a technical infringement.
The pair had originally qualified sixth and eighth respectively, but following post-session investigations, race stewards ruled that the rear wing on both cars had flexed to an excessive degree – thereby increasing downforce – and was as such contrary to the sport's regulations, which disallow 'any degree of freedom'.
'The Stewards have received a report from the Technical Delegate that the upper rear wing elements of cars No. 9 and 10 are showing extreme flexibility in contravention of Article 3.15 of the 2009 Formula One Technical Regulations,' read a statement released by governing body the FIA.
'The Stewards have heard the explanation from a representative of Panasonic Toyota Racing and have examined the cars in question. The Stewards concur with the opinion of the Technical Delegate and find the cars contravene the requirements of Article 3.15 of the 2009 Formula One Technical Regulations.
'It is the Stewards' decision that cars number 9 and 10 be excluded from the Qualifying Session Official Classification.'
Toyota has said that it will not appeal the decision, even though the ruling means the big-budget Japanese manufacturer almost certainly loses the possibility of a podium finish at Albert Park. Both drivers have looked strong all weekend, with Trulli lapping comfortably inside the top three in two of the three earlier free practice sessions – indeed, just three thousandths of a second away from Nico Rosberg's fastest marker in FP3 on Saturday morning – even if the experienced Italian did seem to struggle at stages during qualifying, only making it through to Q2 and Q3 in the very dying moments.
“That was a really hard qualifying for me,” the 34-year-old confessed. “I expected a lot more from today, so I am disappointed. Of course I will fight as hard as I can in the race, but I don't know what to expect because the car felt different in qualifying compared to final practice.
“I don't know why, but the tyres just would not warm up as expected and I was sliding around quite a bit. On top of that I had some issues with the brakes, so it was really difficult for me.”
“We struggled a bit in second and third practice to find the right balance,” countered Glock, before the penalty was announced, “but we worked hard to find a solution and did some set-up work which got the car into the right set-up window. I think with a bit more fine-tuning maybe we could have been further up the grid.
“We were only a tenth behind the top three so it could have been better, but the car feels pretty good now and we are clearly not far away, so let's see how it goes tomorrow in terms of strategy.”