Pascal Wehrlein’s qualifying efforts hit the skids in Shanghai today when a bump on the straight concealing a patch of standing water pitched him into the armco on his first timed lap. Team mate Rio Haryanto picked up the mantle but was less happy with his MRT05 versus his practice performance. Rio will start tomorrow’s Chinese Grand Prix from 20th on the grid ahead of Pascal and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton.
“The track was pretty dry by the start of qualifying and so slicks was the right choice. There’s a bump on the start-finish straight and behind that a patch of water, which I hit, lost the rear and spun. It was very unexpected as everywhere else on the track was fine but difficult to see as it was hidden. I guess I was just unlucky as there was nothing I could do. The only fortunate thing is that I didn’t hit the armco too hard; it could have been a much bigger job ahead of the race. I’m disappointed not to qualify but the race is another day and our pace looked good in practice yesterday. It’s not easy to start from the back but that’s what we did in Australia and things didn’t end so badly for me. We’ll see what tomorrow brings and for my part I’ll be giving it my best shot as always.”
“I’m not so happy with my lap today. Yesterday we were quite competitive and in the mix with Sauber but today this wasn’t the case. It was difficult to get the tyre up to temperature because we’d already completed a lap before the red flag. We’ll need to look at how much of a factor that was for us when we examine the data this evening. Our race pace looked good in free practice yesterday so I’m still positive for tomorrow.”
Dave Ryan, Racing Director:
“As Rio’s early performance on his opening run demonstrated, our decision to go early on the Supersoft could have gone either way. Sadly with Pascal it didn’t go the way we wanted it to. We hadn’t used the Supersoft all weekend so given the track was pretty much dry we thought it would be worthwhile doing our first run on that tyre early in the session to give us time to make any adjustments ahead of the second run. Unfortunately the bump we all knew about upset Pascal’s car such that, combined with the wet track at that exact same point, he was just a passenger. There was nothing he could do and that was the end of qualifying for him. Rio’s lap had a better outcome thankfully, so it was just a bit of bad luck on Pascal’s part.
“We haven’t made things very easy for ourselves for tomorrow but as Australia and Bahrain showed, if you can get a good start and beat the back of the pack on the opening lap, there is still plenty to fight for. We’ve got a way to go to perfect our approach to qualifying but I’m hoping we can still enjoy a good race tomorrow.”
Rio Q1 P20 9 laps 1:40.264
Pascal Q1 DNF 2 laps