Downton FV team principal Bradley Downton has admitted a dramatic setup change was the cause of his teams lack of performance in qualifying for the German V-Prix, as for the first time in 2017 neither Downton will start the race on the front row.
Following practice on Friday the team looked as imperious as they've done all season and were a sure-fire bet for pole position having taken five of the six poles so far this year, only missing out in the rain-hit session in Malaysia.
But in qualifying the team were all at sea, with both Nathaniel Powers and Klaas van Snelheid regularly locking up and struggling to keep the cars under control; though they did still lock out the second row of the grid.
"The car was awful, I don't know what else to say," said a disconsolate Powers in the post-qualifying press conference. "Yes, I'm still third and we still have a shot tomorrow - and that is one hell of a save, but the huge concern here is what happened. I haven't spoken to the guys yet and I don't know the problem, but I didn't feel in control, the car was driving me."
Team principal Downton later confirmed the team had changed the setups of both cars after concerns following practice. "We saw the pace on Friday was good but not amazing, and we were massively concerned by how fast the car was chewing through its tyres. Now, admittedly that has seemingly been a feature of our car this season, but the data showed it was worse here than usual."
"As such, we looked through and our engineers suggested a different setup for both cars that showed on the simulations to be equally as fast but kinder to the tyres, so we gambled on it. However, I think it's clear to see from the result today that we f***** up."
"The average gain across all cars from practice to qualifying was relatively modest compared to other races this season at just half a tenth, yet both of our cars lost around four tenths of a second. In fact, if you rank each driver in terms of gain or loss from practice to qualifying, our cars come in 23rd and 24th, with only Inman and Harrison losing more time."
"That makes it abundantly clear to me that this was our mistake, and that in fact our drivers performed to the absolute maximum to salvage what they did with second row starts."