With Sauber suddenly looking back on form and even rather feisty, Williams
understandably feared that Q1 on Saturday might see both of their drivers fail to progress as the team admitted that they were struggling to make their tyres supply the necessary levels of grip in Singapore this weekend.
"We continued doing some mechanical tests to find more grip during FP3 and it was coming to us more as the track conditions improved," explained chief race engineer Xevi Pujolar. "We made progress with the tyre management but we could see it would be hard to get into Q2."
In the end the improvement was too little too late for Pastor Maldonado, who missed out on progressing through to Q2 by three quarters of a second.
"We have been struggling with the car since the first practice session this weekend and it is very tricky to drive," the Venezuelan admitted. "We couldn't make the tyres work today and I suffered from a bit of traffic towards the end."
But Valtteri Bottas did manage to get in top of the grip problems, and crucially also found a clear spell on the track to make his run once the field made its late en masse
change to supersofts for a final flurry of flying laps in Q1.
"We're pushing as hard as we can with the car and I was pleased with my lap in Q2 as we managed to improve a bit," said Botta. "This is where we are with the car in terms of pure pace but we'll do everything we can to make the most of it."
"Pastor qualified 18th whilst Valtteri was able to progress into Q2 and put in a clean lap to get the most out of the car today," said Xevi Pujolar. "We now focus on the race with thermal management of the tyres, strategy and the high potential of safety cars all things to consider for tomorrow.
"It will be a long, hot and challenging race for both the car and driver, but we'll be fighting as hard as we can to be in a position to bring home some points," he added.
Bottas might have the better hand in terms of the Williams
pair but starting from 16th place still leaves him in No Man's Land in terms of what he can realistically hope to achieve on Sunday.
"It's going to be a hard race for the cars and drivers tomorrow," Bottas agreed. "All we can do is our best, stay in the race and take every opportunity we can."
"The conditions will be difficult but we'll do our best in the race tomorrow and try to get the maximum out of the car," added Maldonado who'll be starting one row back from 18th on the grid.