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Barrichello stunned by Red Bull pace… Perez makes a strong debut… Di Resta impresses

by Matthew Clayton

Barrichello: Red Bull in a different league

Williams veteran Rubens Barrichello spent six fruitful years with Ferrari in the early 2000s, and said Red Bull’s dominance in qualifying on Saturday afternoon reminded him of his time with the famed Italian team.

“The real story of today is how much (time) Red Bull have in hand – they have a different car,” the Brazilian said.

“I’ve been in a situation when the Ferrari I drove was in a different league. It was great – we even had times when we had fuel on board when we qualify because we don’t want to show the true pace.

“It’s annoying, but if there is anything to happen to change things, it’s this year with the new rules, the new tyres, the KERS, the rear wing, plenty more pit stops. You cannot be too pessimistic (but) right now, it’s almost like the others could sit down and cry because of their speed.”

Things took a turn for the worse for the Williams driver after a gearbox problem curtailed his running on Saturday.

The team went into qualifying on the back foot, and Barrichello finished his day in the gravel trap at Turn 3 after sliding off circuit in the second knockout phase of qualifying. The Brazilian will start his 16th race at Albert Park from 17th on the grid.

“We were playing catch-up from the morning and we lost time with the gearbox change, and there was a little bit of a situation where you’re (still) learning things in qualifying,” he said.

“The focus was just to set a good time (in Q2) and then we would change things around, and I touched the grass and that spun me around. So it was a silly mistake.”

Perez a “nice surprise” for Sauber

Sauber’s rookie Sergio Perez was pleased with his first F1 qualifying session, with the Mexican set to start his maiden Grand Prix from 13th on the grid.

The 21-year-old put in a composed performance described by team boss Peter Sauber as a “nice surprise”, and Perez himself felt he could have done even better but for problems late in Saturday afternoon’s practice session.

“We struggled in practice three to have a run on the new option tyres, so we had a big disadvantage in qualifying,” he said.

“I only used the tyre in Q1 with low fuel, so we were at a bit of a disadvantage to do some set-up changes. But we can be happy – I always want more, but it didn’t happen today.”

Perez, the quickest of the quartet of debutants, said he found the three-part knockout qualifying system used in Formula One over the hour-long session challenging. 

“It’s very different to what I’m used to in the other series I have raced,” he said.

“It’s not such a drama, but sometimes you are very tight on time which is the worst scenario you can have. But apart from that, it’s a nice feeling to do a good lap on the soft tyre if you are calm and ready.”

Di Resta battles butterflies to beat teammate

Force India’s rookie Paul di Resta finished 14th in Saturday’s qualifying session, two places ahead of his teammate Adrian Sutil, and said his anxiety before qualifying might have been more of a help than a hindrance.

“I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I was going to be, but you’re definitely still nervous – that’s what gets your adrenaline going,” the Scot said.

“You’ve got to be nervous to perform, I think, and if you’re not, you’re probably in the wrong job.”

Di Resta admitted to a couple of errors on his flying laps in Q2 as he got to grips with the Albert Park circuit on a light fuel load.

“It surprised me a bit how much the track developed, and qualifying is the first time you get very low fuel. With the track improving all the time, you feel a little bit behind where you need to be,” he said.

“It was a bit of a mistake in Q2 to only use one set of tyres and save a set for the race, but luckily enough it didn’t hamper the position because I don’t think we would have been close enough to beat (Perez’s) Sauber .”

Di Resta has set modest goals for his maiden F1 outing.

“It’s a new experience, and while I’ve done a race simulation and distance, it’s not been around other cars,” he said. “So I’ll try to keep my nose clean and see what the performance is.”

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