It was the type of terrible conditions when even the biggest names in F1 could get caught out and find themselves relegated to the back row of the grid for the race, so Lotus drivers Kimi Raikkonen
and Romain Grosjean
were happy simply to survive the first qualifying elimination round on Saturday.
"It wasn't easy with the traffic, people going off and the yellow flags but we went through to the second qualifying session tomorrow so it's not all bad," said Raikkonen, who finished Q1 safely in 11th place with a best time of 1:45.545s some 2.2s off the fastest lap of the session posted by Nico Rosberg
in the Mercedes.
"Today the challenge was finding some clear space on track," continued the Finn. "The car doesn't feel too bad in the wet, it's an improvement on where we were last year for sure."
His team mate Romain Grosjean
has started the day particularly well, with the fastest time in a rain-hit final free practice session on Saturday morning. (See separate story
"The day started pretty well," agreed the French driver. "It's the first time I've topped an official practice session and I have to say a big thank you to the team for their hard work since yesterday."
Grosjean carried that wet weather form into Q1, and finished the session with the third fastest time behind Rosberg and Fernando Alonso
in the Ferrari, albeit a second off the pacesetter.
" It's no secret that wet conditions did not favour our car last year, but from what we saw today there have definitely been some improvements," said a happy Grosjean. "I have to say a big thank you to the team for their hard work since yesterday. We took a different direction with the setup and it's clear we made the right decision."
Grosjean will be hoping that this bounce in pace continues overnight and in drier conditions on Sunday, as qualifying was suspended at the end of Q1 and now the remaining 16 drivers - including Raikkonen and Grosjean - will have to battle it out for grid position on Sunday morning from 11am local time (midnight GMT).
"The session being delayed until tomorrow was a shame, but it's the same for everyone," shrugged Raikkonen.
"It's frustrating to delay the rest of qualifying," agreed Grosjean. "I'm sorry for the fans as they have been fantastic all week and stuck around despite the weather. We have a big day tomorrow and it looks like staying dry, so hopefully we can put on a good show for them."