Mercedes-Benz Head of Motorsport Toto Wolff admits that he is once again disappointed, after no Mercedes drivers made it into Q4 for the second time in 2013 during qualifying at the Red Bull Ring.
The top driver for the three-pointed star was HWA’s Robert Wickens, who qualified in seventh. Gary Paffett will start Round 3 from 9th after failing to set a time in Q3 due to mechanical problems. The Brit will benefit by one position after Audi’s Mike Rockenfeller was given a five-place grid penalty.
It is the second time in 2013 that no Mercedes driver has made it into Q4. The season started promisingly for Mercedes, with five of its six cars qualifying inside the top ten at the Hockenheimring. However the marque suffered a disastrous qualifying last time out at Brands Hatch as none of its drivers made it into the top ten on Saturday.
Securing two top ten grid positions for raceday at the Red Bull Ring will thus come as little consolation to Wolff.
“We were dissatisfied with the race weekend at Brands Hatch and today’s qualifying session here in Spielberg has also been disappointing, but we are all fighters and racers through and through in our team and we intend to strike back in tomorrow’s race,” admitted Wolff.
“I am confident that Gerhard Ungar and his crew will pull it off and that together we can overcome this temporary setback. Gary had a bit of bad luck today, unfortunately, but he still has every chance of achieving a decent result on this track where there are plenty of overtaking opportunities.”
Former champion Paffett was unable to post a time in Q3 having detected a problem with his car on his out-lap. The Brit returned to the pits but his team had not enough time to solve the problem during qualifying.
“As I was just about to leave the box, I heard a strange noise and suddenly lost all power, which meant I wasn’t able to continue the session,” said Paffett. “We now have to analyse the reason for this, and in tomorrow’s race, we’ll have to stage another charge from the back – just like at Brands Hatch – and try to pick up as many points as possible.”