Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake couldn't maximise the promising pace shown in practice as it tackled qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix, with Valtteri Bottas setting the 16th fastest time, mere hundreds of a second away from the Q2 threshold, ahead of team-mate, Zhou Guanyu, in P19.
It was a challenging afternoon for the team at the Suzuka Circuit: work will be done overnight to figure out what lacked today, as both drivers will now aim to recover positions on track during tomorrow's race, charging their way through the field and into the top ten.
Alessandro Alunni Bravi, Team Representative: "We faced another difficult qualifying session today, with both cars not making it past Q1. There were higher expectations within the team at the end of FP3, having seen our cars making progress from Friday, but unfortunately, we weren't able to make that further step forward we needed ahead of qualifying, unlike our competitors. Both Valtteri and Zhou had their final push laps affected by traffic on track; still, we don't want to find excuses, but instead analyse our work to figure out a way to make a higher step from FP3 to qualifying. Another challenging race expects our team tomorrow, and we all will need to do our best to score points. Our pace looked decent, but we have seen once again how the competition is so tight that any factor, even the smallest, can make the difference between Q1, Q2, and even Q3. We must stick together as a team now, turning today's page and working on making an improvement tomorrow and in the next qualifying sessions."
Valtteri Bottas: "We didn't get to maximise the potential of our car this afternoon, and it is undoubtedly disappointing, as we had been looking good both in terms of feeling and of pace throughout every session leading up to qualifying. Unfortunately, the red flag affected my first push lap; the final one was actually quite clean, besides some traffic in the first sector, but we lost some pace compared to our direct competitors today, and we eventually dropped out of Q1 by a handful of hundredths. We'll look into that overnight, and try to figure out what exactly happened, to be in better form again tomorrow. Our long-run pace actually looked promising, so I reckon we still have a chance to recover positions and make improvements on track."
Zhou Guanyu: "Our car was feeling good, even though we definitely lost something in our pace today. Unfortunately, I was already on the edge for Q2 when I was caught up in traffic and had a moment in Turn 9, ultimately spoiling my chances to make it through. Overall, it has been a very messy Q1 from my side, but I do feel that where we ended up today doesn't really reflect the performances we have showed this weekend so far - nor where we were supposed to be. I reckon we potentially could have even made it up to Q3, still taking into consideration the track evolution throughout the sessions. Today hasn't been our day, and even if starting from the back of the grid will be trickier, we will keep pushing and give our best tomorrow to put up some nice battles and charge through the field."
Check out our Saturday gallery from Suzuka here.