Williams looked on the pace heading into qualifying, but mistakes at crucial moments left Pastor Maldonado in ninth place on the grid for the 2012 F1 Grand Prix of India at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida, while his team mate Bruno Senna will start from 13th after missing out on the top ten shootout.

"I don't think ninth is reflective of our true pace today, insisted Maldonado, clearly frustrated by his performance in Q3. "I made a small mistake [locking up the brakes] on the final corner of my final lap which lost me quite a lot of time."

Even so, Maldonado insisted that the team was making progress in the right direction and that he was optimistic that his Williams would prove competitive in race trim on Sunday.

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"We're back challenging in Q3 so there are lots of positives we can take from today's qualifying," he said. "We were not as quick as we needed to be yesterday but we worked really hard to understand why and the car felt much better today."

His team mate Bruno Senna missed out on Q3 after an error of his own on his final run on new soft option tyres.

"I made a mistake on my lap which is disappointing because I would have been in the top ten if that hadn't happened," he insisted. "We've been strong on our longer runs so hopefully I can make up some places tomorrow and get into the points."

Senna was ultimately two tenths outside the time he needed to make it into Q3, but like his team mate was convinced that they were moving in the right direction overall.

"We showed good pace in this morning's practice and in Q1 as well as a clear improvement over the last couple of races," he said. "So things are going in the right direction."

The team's chief operations engineer Mark Gillan concurred. "Both drivers did well today with the car having the pace to get into Q3," he said. "We showed good long run pace on Friday and with further car improvements through the weekend we expect to have two strong races with both drivers fighting for points."