Maldonado hails qualifying breakthrough
|By Matt Beer||Saturday, May 21st 2011, 14:32 GMT|
Pastor Maldonado believes his first Q3 appearance marks a genuine step forward in form for Williams, though he admits that the team still has a lot of work to do to get to where it wants to be.
Williams has struggled all season so far and has yet to score any points, but rookie Maldonado's Formula 1 career-best ninth on the grid in Spain gave the outfit some encouragement.
"I am really happy for the team and all the guys," he said. "We've tried really hard to find a good balance all weekend.
"Yesterday's practice, particularly the first session, was really difficult for me. The car wasn't great so we took a bit of a risk and decided to run the new rear wing in qualifying.
"The car seems more competitive, but we still need to keep pushing and improve. I am happy today."
Technical director Sam Michael also hopes that today's result can be a springboard for the team.
"That was a great effort by Pastor today to put Williams back into the top 10 in qualifying," he said. "The next step is to get some points."
Rubens Barrichello will start only 19th after a gearbox failure in the other Williams, but he was convinced he would also have been in the top 10.
"I think there is a big positive in saving a set of tyres, which is one way of looking at it, but having seen where Pastor finished, we could also have had a good shot inside the top 10," said the Brazilian. "I will be pushing to be there tomorrow."