Formula 1’s solitary rookie in 2017, Lance Stroll, is set to start P12 in Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix after he failed reach Q3 and match the pace of his Williams team mate, Felipe Massa, who’ll start four places ahead in P8.
During Q2, the experienced Brazilian with 250+ Grand Prix’s to his name strode gracefully into Q3 with a single lap and in the process produced a comfortable margin of 0.491s back to Stroll.
Massa, however, set his fastest Q2 time in the first few minutes of the session – a whole eight minutes before Stroll, meaning the latter did have the benefit of an evolving track.
Even in Q1 Massa was still 0.375s quicker than Stroll on a time he set more than 10 minutes earlier.
A more honest representatation is comparing the team mates respective Q1 laps set at the same time; Massa was ahead by over 1.5 seconds.
Despite this, Stroll said after the session he was “happy” and “pleased” with his efforts.
— WILLIAMS RACING (@WilliamsRacing) April 15, 2017
Because he was only able to complete one run in Q2 due to using an extra set of tires in Q1, Stroll felt getting within 0.269 of a spot in Q3 was a “good effort.”
However, this isn’t the first time Stroll has been unable to match Massa in qualifying. During the Australian Grand Prix, Massa’s best time in Q1 was a whole 2.044s faster than that of Stroll.
In China, the margin during the same session did shrink to 0.219s, but, Massa set his time more than 9 minutes earlier on a track that was fast evolving because of rain on Friday.
For China’s Q2 and Q3 sessions that followed, Stroll still couldn’t match Massa, adrift by 0.331s and 0.713s respectively.
Stroll’s Team Principal, Claire Williams, has been quick to defend his pace in 2017, telling media on Thursday his ability to reach Q3 in China “proved that he deserves the seat.”
“I don’t actually doubt that he’s going to be able to be capable of scoring the points that we need him to,” she added.
After two rounds in 2017, Williams sit 6th in the Constructors Championship, two points adrift of rivals Force India and a further two points behind Toro Rosso. So far, Massa has scored all of the team’s eight points.