24/06/2012

Saturday Analysis

Qualifying Results: Hulkenberg 8th (1:38.752), di Resta 10th (1:38.992), Karthikeyan 22nd (1:42.527).

Sahara Force India will have both cars starting inside the top ten, which was a great effort. However many people were actually disappointed as 3rd & 4th places were possible.

This is what the two drivers said:

Nico Hulkenberg (Sahara Force India driver):
"I think overall it's a great result for the team to get both cars into Q3, but maybe we were hoping for a little bit more than P8 and P10, especially considering how we have performed so far this weekend. I don't think the increase in temperatures helped us because the car felt more difficult to drive today and a bit nervous at times. For the race tomorrow we are still near the front and will take the fight to the cars around us to try and come away with some points".

Paul di Resta (Sahara Force India driver):
"It was a strong qualifying session but I feel I could have been higher up the grid because I didn't get the perfect lap together in Q3. We were the quickest car in Q2 and if I could have repeated that lap time in Q3 I would have been a couple of rows higher up the grid. I was trying to squeeze a little bit extra from the car but I locked a wheel and lost time in the final sector. I will try and focus on the positives because we have been strong in all the sessions, the car is well dialled into the circuit, and I think we will have good race pace for tomorrow".

Despite the drivers not achieving the cars potential today (both made errors in sector three) - there are many positives to draw on.

For instance, our car clearly has pace! Judging by all the sessions we've seen so far, the VJM05 has the pace around this track to consistently run in the top five. What this means for tomorrow is that the drivers should be looking forward not backwards! There is no reason why double-figure points can't be scored tomorrow!

Many people have pointed out that of the problems that may be faced by our drivers is that there are no real straights on the Valencia circuit which makes overtaking difficult. However i have to disagree with this; the previous F1 races we've seen at Valencia have had very few overtakes - that's a fact, but ... the GP2 feature race which followed the F1 qualifying today had a tonne of overtaking, there was passing all over the place - that shows it is possible. Additionally the DRS zone has been extended compared to last season which will help matters somewhat.

The other potential pitfall is the issue we saw at the last race in Canada, tyre wear. However i've had a clear inside message from the team saying they have figured out what the problem was in Canada and they believe they have discovered something related to tyre wear that no other team is aware of. I don't know exactly what this is, but boy am i excited to find out!

Here's what the boss had to say:

Dr Vijay Mallya (Sahara Force India team principal):
"Another extremely close qualifying hour and I'm pleased that we were able to get two cars into Q3 for the first time this year. The car has been extremely quick throughout practice and we showed that again today with some very competitive times in Q1 and Q2. When it came to Q3 both drivers didn't quite deliver perfect laps, which costs us a few positions on the grid, but we are still well placed to fight for points finishes with both cars. We expect a tough race tomorrow with very hot temperatures once again, but the car is strong, we have a good understanding of the tyres and our long run pace looks promising".

Meanwhile at the other end of the grid, Narain Karthikeyan had a decent qualifying session too! He beat the Marussia of Charles Pic and also starts ahead of the second Marussia, Timo Glock, who did not take part in qualifying. Narain's teammate, de la Rosa, did a fantastic lap and was out of reach for the Indian. The aim for tomorrow will be to win the battle between the HRT's and Marussia's and basically just grab as many positions as possible. Valencia is a street track and so a high number of retirements is possible, that may just play nicely into the hands of Narain.

Here's what he had to say:

Narain Karthikeyan (HRT driver):
"We made some specific set-up changes for qualifying which definitely helped as we completed our best qualifying session of the season so far. We're ahead of the Marussias, which is very important, and clocking similar times to Pedro so I’m very happy with the result. I hope to carry the momentum over into tomorrow's race where we'll have to keep a close eye on the heat. But we're in better conditions than in Canada and should be able to put in a good performance. I'm heading into the race full of confidence after today and hope to achieve a good result".

There's something else i want to mention about the two Sahara Force India drivers, but i couldn't really fit it in anywhere so far. Both Nico & Paul made costly mistakes today on their hot laps in the final sector. In the short-term it's disadvantaged the team slightly, but it's not the end of the World. In a long-term sense though, this may actually help the two drivers develop. I was particularly impressed with how Paul reacted: "I was trying to squeeze a little bit extra from the car but I locked a wheel and lost time in the final sector". He held his hands up and he will learn from this. Next time these two are in a simmilar situation they'll remember this session and realise it's probably better to be consistent rather than push for even more time and risk making the error. Don't forget both these guys are only in their second seasons of full F1 - they're still learning - it's okay to mistakes now and then :-)

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