Rubens Barrichello gave the beleaguered Williams F1 team a timely boost today in qualifying for the F1 2011 Turkish Grand Prix and the Brazilian only narrowly missed out on making it through to the top-ten shootout.
It was a welcome result for the Grove-based outfit, which recently confirmed a dramatic technical reshuffle, with technical director Sam Michael and chief aerodynamicist Jon Tomlinson both now set to depart at the end of the season. The changes were ignited by what has been the former multiple world champions' worst start to an F1 campaign in its history, with no points from the opening three grand's prix, four DNFs and a best qualifying position of just 15th.
Barrichello though did well in qualifying today, and while he was on the cusp in Q3, he upped his pace in Q2 and was only demoted to P11 late on, losing out to Nick Heidfeld's Renault by just 0.024 seconds.
“After all the work we have done this weekend at the factory and trackside, I have to always put a great lap together in qualifying and I'm very happy with my last lap,” said Barrichello. “Unfortunately though, we just ended up outside the top ten, which is not that penalising with the tyre situation.
“We also weren't running the new rear wing which was one of our upgrades for this race so it was a good qualifying session for us to finish 11th despite that.”
GP2 graduate and F1 rookie Pastor Maldonado also went pretty well and he will start 14th in the sister car.
“That's the happiest I've felt after a qualifying session this season,” he continued. “The new parts the team have worked really hard to deliver to this race have definitely improved the car. It feels quicker and easier to drive so our efforts have paid off.
“Because of a problem, I haven't run KERS all weekend. If it was working in qualifying, we would have been three tenths quicker. But, anyway, we need to focus on tomorrow now. It will be a difficult race and will probably be very tight, but I am confident that we can get a good result.”
Sam Michael shares that optimism: “We're heading in the right direction, thanks to a lot of hard work in the factory. Rubens starts the race in P11, and with new tyres, and Pastor in P14,” he added.
“The day wasn't without issue, as we had to revert to the standard rear wing on both cars after signs of aerodynamic separation on the new version in practice. That cost us some top speed. In addition, Pastor's KERS wasn't working, which lost him a couple of places on the grid. These are not excuses but rather that with these issues resolved, we have cause for optimism. Our target now is to get both cars in the points.”