Pastor Maldonado was an early victim of an unusually voracious Australian Grand Prix, denying him the almost certain chance to score points.

The Venezuelan was a regular departee in Q1 last season, so it was a pleasant surprise for him to make it all the way through to the final phase of qualifying on Saturday evening in Melbourne. Having posted the tenth-fastest time in Q3, however, Maldonado found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and became collateral damage after being tagged by rookie Felipe Nasr in the wake of the two Ferraris touching at turn one.

"Racing is like this," the Lotus driver sighed, "It was quite a busy start and, going into a narrow corner, I just felt a big hit on the back and didn't see what happened.

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"It's disappointing because it was a great chance for us to have a great race. The pace of the car was looking much better than in qualifying so, looking forward, we can learn from this race. It was a good weekend until today, so it's looking quite promising."

Maldonado's exit was made all the more galling for Lotus when team-mate Romain Grosjean was forced to retire at the end of the opening lap with a mystery engine problem, leaving the Enstone team pointless heading to round two, in Malaysia, in two weeks' time.