Robert Kubica says his disappointing qualifying performance for Williams was down to a “silly mistake” when picked up a puncture after hitting a wall.

Kubica will line up in last position on his Formula 1 return after eight years out following his life-threatening rallying accident as he dropped out in Q1.

During his final run in the opening qualifying session at the Australian Grand Prix, Kubica clipped the wall at Turn 10 and picked up a right-rear tyre puncture which effectively ended his chances.

Kubica, who last competed in F1 at the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, held his hands up at the error and feels his pain was compounded having found a better setup with his Williams during his final run.

“I think qualifying was also quite difficult in terms of the general feeling in the car and suddenly the feeling massively improved for the last run. But then I complicated my life with a silly mistake,” Kubica said. “It was not even a mistake from overdriving or something, it was purely bad evaluation of the space, which is a bit embarrassing.

“But at least I got a better overview of how much more pace I would have for when I get to other street circuits.

“It shouldn’t happen, but I feel there were a couple of things we understood better in qualifying.”

Despite his optimism over a stronger feeling in his FW42, Kubica expects his starting position won’t impact his race given Williams appears considerably off the pace of the rest of the F1 field.

Williams missed the start of pre-season testing after delays in building its 2019 F1 car, while technical chief Paddy Lowe has taken a leave of absence since its disastrous start to the year, leaving the team off the pace and playing catch-up.

“Unfortunately, it will not change anything for the outcome, for the team, position-wise,” Kubica said. “Because we missed quite a lot of Barcelona running, it’s kind of normal that when the car runs, it’s not running in the way it should run, so we’re mixing a bit of ideas.

“George [Russell] and I are in line with the feeling we have for the car, where we have to work but, probably because I’m more experienced, I would never say it will take two or three months to fix. For now, no one knows. I hope it will take only two or three months but, as I said, I cannot say it.”

“At least we understood the direction the car needs from setup point of view, which is a bit late, but it’s better late than never.

“We went into the direction that was a bit like last year, but actually this car is quite different to drive, it has different characteristics and it was not paying off. At least, from a difficult day, this was a positive thing.”