Esteban Gutiérrez could be forgiven for taking a few minutes to find his balance before stepping out of the stricken Sauber car at the end of Q1, after a late accident saw him thrown into a violent spin at turn 12.
Although the accident was similar to one suffered at the same spot by Felipe Massa
earlier in the 20 minute qualifying session at Melbourne's Albert Park, Gutiérrez' car caught the tyre barrier at an angle rather than nose-on and was was whipped into a high-speed spin back across the middle of the track.
"Unfortunately Esteban was caught out by one of the kerbs in the wet," explained Sauber's head of track engineering, Tom McCullough.
The car was damaged in the accident and Gutiérrez could not continue, resulting in double waved yellow flags in that part of the circuit for the remaining time before the chequered flag came out.
“Unfortunately I made a mistake and feel sorry for the whole team," said the chastened Mexican, who took over from Sergio Perez over the offseason. "I need to avoid this kind of mistake and try to make the most of my potential."
Because the track has been drying up at the time and the teams had just switched to intermediate tyres that had sent qualifying times tumbling, Gutiérrez' premature end to the day meant that he finished outside the top 16 runners who will take part in Q2 and Q3, which because of the heavy rain showers in Australia have been moved to Sunday morning, when the weather is expected to be much drier and brighter.
"A shame Esteban went out, particularly because he had proven before that he was quick on full wet tyres as well as on intermediates," said Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn. "He definitely had the potential to make it into Q2, but was unlucky."
Gutiérrez is hoping that improved conditions will enable him to bounce back from 18th place on the starting grid for his first F1 Grand Prix start.
"I feel very comfortable with the car and this is something that is a step forward for me," he said.
Gutiérrez' more experienced team mate Nico Hülkenberg was more fortunate in getting through the first qualification elimination round, and will take part in Q2 when qualifying resumes on Sunday morning at 11am local time (midnight GMT.)
“We had an unusual qualifying session, which reminds me of the qualifying in Suzuka 2010 where the session was also postponed because of the rain," said Hülkenberg. "Usually F1 works like clockwork, but you can't influence the weather.
"The performance in general was good and now we have to focus on getting the best out of the situation tomorrow," the German driver added.