A power-unit problem meant the Venezuelan emerged on track in Q1 as the predicted rain arrived. He suffered several off-track excursions while slowly returning to the Lotus pit garage on slick tyres and was the only driver to not put in a timed lap.
As he failed to meet the 107 per cent qualifying rule, the stewards met to assess the situation and decide if he should start the race.
He was granted permission to compete on the grounds that he “set satisfactory times in practice.” The stewards added that “such a grant is not precedent for further races.”
The 29-year-old will line up behind his team-mate Romain Grosjean in 21st place on the grid. He has been promoted one position due to Esteban Gutierrez needing an engine change and incurring an automatic five-place grid penalty.
Commenting on his qualifying session, he said: “It’s been quite difficult today. We’re working very hard and we need to be optimistic. For the race we’ll just do the best we can. Our pace should be quite good; we just need to put the laps together.”
Image courtesy of Lotus F1 Team