12/05/2012

Spanish GP - Saturday Sweep-up

Having just watched two quite brilliant races in Spain (GP2 Feature Race and GP3 Race One) i'm even more excited about tomorrow!

The aim for the Sahara Force India boys starting in 12th and 13th (post Hamilton penalty) will be to score points of course. However, the grid is so evenly matched and the tyres are so marginal in terms of performance that a podium is a genuine possibility. Infact this is the case for any team (apart from the newer teams at the back who simply lack pace). Of course a podium would be a dream result, and there is an outside chance, but let's concentrate on points for now :-)

Some things to watch out for tomorrow include:
  • General race pace - Both Sahara Force India drivers had VERY good race pace in the practice sessions, especially Nico who was one of the fastest cars out there - could make things very interesting.
  • Lap one, turn one - the nature of the Spanish track means that there is a high probability of a collision at turn one on the opening lap. Paul and Nico need to be careful not to get caught up in any incident, especially as they start in the tightly congested midfield.
  • Rain - it's possible, a 30% chance of some precipitation during the race, that could certainly mix things up!
  • Strategy - most in the paddock have been saying three or four stops for tomorrow, but could we see one of our boys doing a risky two stopper to gain positions? A safety car could also factor into this.

Here is what the guys had to say:

Paul di Resta (Sahara Force India driver):
"It has been quite a difficult weekend so far trying to get the car dialled into the circuit. In fact, it was only during the my final qualifying run that we made a change to the aero balance and I felt that the car was really hooked up. It’s close throughout the field once again, but we've been fairly aggressive on set-up and our pace over longs runs has looked quite competitive so far this weekend, which gives us a reason to be optimistic for the race. The goal will be to make up ground tomorrow and I think it will be a big achievement if we can pick up some points".

Nico Hulkenberg (Sahara Force India driver):
"I'm pretty satisfied with my final lap in Q2 because I don't think we could have achieved much more from the session today. That's just where we are at the moment in terms of qualifying pace. We are still getting to understand the upgrades we have on the car, but it's also clear that everyone else has made a step forward here and so the midfield remains extremely tight. The races so far this year have shown that grid position is not as crucial as it used to be with a lot of movement in the races, so I think we can still have a good race".

Robert Fernley (Sahara Force India deputy team principal):
"The team has done an excellent job over the last few weeks to push through our upgrade package and get it on the car this weekend. But it’s still early days and I'm sure that over the coming races we can fine-tune things further and extract even more performance. With than in mind I think we can take encouragement from our qualifying showing today with both Nico and Paul just a couple of tenths shy of squeezing through to Q3. We've been pleased with our tyre wear and the performance over long runs suggests we are in good shape for a competitive race tomorrow".

Meanwhile Narain Karthikeyan failed to qualify within the 107% rule but, as i predicted, he has been given permission to race tomorrow as he's previously demonstrated in practice that he's quick enough.

Karthikeyan was very slow in qualifying, this is why:

Narain Karthikeyan (HRT driver):
"It's been a very unlucky weekend for me so far. In the morning everything went smoothly but in the afternoon, with the first set of tyres I was pushing really hard and spun on turn 3 and, as a result, I flat-spotted a tyre so I had to come back in to the garage. We were going to go on the second set of tyres but we discovered some problems and due to safety concerns, not only for myself but the others, we decided that the best thing was to not go back out. It seems like my bad luck continues to follow me this weekend and, although I'm disappointed about that, there's nothing else I can do but keep giving it my best shot".

His aim, starting from 23rd, will be to reach the checkered flag and try finish ahead of his teammate (who starts 22nd).

I'm massively excited about this race and hope you are too!! We'll have a race report very soon after the cars are done tomorrow, check back for that! :-)

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