25/06/2012

Weekend Analysis

F1
Results: Hulkenberg 5th (10 points), di Resta 7th (6 points), Karthikeyan 18th.

It was such an eventful race, i am not entirely sure where to begin!

We know Hulkenberg started 8th with di Resta 10th, both cars had decent starts but it nearly went all wrong straight away as into the first breaking zone of the opening lap Paul got squeezed out and had to cut the curb to avoid Nico! Thankfully there was no damage to either car though.

Both cars were suffering problems however, Paul had a slight overheating issue with his rear brake callipers meaning he had to coast to a halt rather than breaking in some corners. It was costing him 0.5s per lap (approx) however he was on a one-stop strategy, so on the positive side it would help save tyre wear. As for Nico, on lap seven his KERS unit failed. Despite this though the German's pace was actually very good - on par with those around him.

In terms of strategy the plan was for both drivers to try one-stopping. Nico quickly changed to a two-stop strategy early on though. After everyone had completed their first stops the team found themselves in 8th and 9th places. Next up we saw a safety car and it was chaos for a short while - all of a sudden we saw the Sahara Force India's in 5th and 6th places. Paul had a real problem though, Sergio Perez was catching very fast so di Resta had to push to keep the Mexican behind but at the same time tyres needed to be conserved to make the strategy work! A great job by Paul though kept Sergio at bay - the danger was from Schumacher and Webber who were on brand new tyres; and they stormed past Paul. Infact both VJM05's had overtaken Mark Webber earlier in the race - both good overtaking manoeuvres too.

Additionally we saw Sebastian Vettel & Romain Grosjean retire from the race - plus Maldonado and Hamilton collided gifting two more places to our cars. On the final lap the cars were running 5th & 6th but Nico Rosberg managed to squeeze his way past di Resta, who was on very old tyres, at turn 17, meaning our boys finished 5th and 7th.

A good result for our drivers; Sahara Force India's best result of the season, infact it was Nico Hulkenberg's best ever result in F1. Having said that, the result could have been better. If the drivers would have maximised the potential of the car in qualifying, and started higher on the grid; if Nico Hulkenberg did not have a KERS failure; if di Resta pitted under the safety car - then 3rd and 4th places would have been possible.

However it was still a great result, especially as our rivals didn't score many points.

Constructors championship (5th-8th)
5) Mercedes (92 pts)
6) Sauber (60)
7) Williams (45)
8) Force India (44)
What is more important than the result in this weekend though is the realisation that outright speed is there. The VJM05 was quick in Canada, but tyre wear meant a poor result. After working on tyre wear between races, the VJM05 was quick in Valencia, but the potential of the car was not reached in qualifying. The speed is present though which is promising heading to the teams second home race - the British GP! Although Valencia gave the best result of the season for Sahara Force India, i very much suspect that it will be topped in Britain where, with a little luck, a podium will become a probability rather than a possibility :-)

As for the drivers championship; Paul sits 11th on 27pts whereas Nico is 10pts behind in 14th. This is what the main players have to say:

Nico Hulkenberg (Sahara Force India driver):
"A great result for everyone in the team today and for me personally. Fifth place is a great achievement after a very long and difficult race. The two-stop strategy worked well, but the last stint was very long and it was hard to hold off the cars behind me on fresher tyres in the last few laps. So the race was a bit messy at times, but very entertaining and it feels great to come through and score such a good result for the team. We got a bit lucky with some cars dropping out, but we were in the right place to capitalise on things so I'm very happy about today".

Paul di Resta (Sahara Force India driver):
"We went very aggressive by only stopping once and in fact we were the only car to pull off this strategy. Of course, when you're stopping once you really don't want a safety car period and it certainly hurt my race and cost me some track position. But with the way the race unfolded we can't be too disappointed to finish seventh and it's great to have another two-car points finish. On the whole our relative pace through the race was strong, but it was hard to keep the tyre performance towards the end and I was really fighting the car in the closing laps. There was some attrition ahead of us, but we were there to pick up the points when it mattered".

Vijay Mallya
(Sahara Force India team principle):
"A thoroughly enjoyable race today and I'm delighted to see our cars come home in fifth and seventh places, our strongest result of the season and Nico's best finish in Formula One. It was a roller coaster race with many twists and turns, but I feel we have come away with the points we deserved given our performance level this weekend. Both drivers pushed hard, kept out of trouble and made their different strategies work. Paul recovered the ground he lost under the safety car and Nico had to drive most of the race without KERS, so it was an excellent performance by him. The result today sets us up perfectly for Silverstone in two weeks' time where we will be determined to build on this momentum in our local race".

One final thing on Sahara Force India - the work done inbetween the Canadian and European races; to get on top of the tyre wear and bolt on some pretty effective upgrades was a great effort. The management should be applauded!

(Team principles on the pit wall; Robert Fernley (left), Vijay Mallya (right) - click to enlarge)

Having qualified 22nd, Narain Karthikeyan had a good start and retained his position ahead of Charles Pic. The two cars were battling hard all race and we even saw a minor collision between the two. Although when Narain Karthikeyan was handed a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pits then that ruined his race really, P18 ahead of the retirements.

Narain Karthikeyan (HRT driver):
"I got off to a good start and managed to hold my position. We had a tough battle for the first 15 laps and our car was going very well on the straights but the degradation of the rear tyres started affecting our performance. After the pitstop I was behind Pic and it wasn't easy to drive so I was unable to catch him up. But we had a good last stint on the prime tyres which, unfortunately, got hampered by a drive-through penalty as a result of speeding in the pit lane. Had it not been for this then perhaps I could have finished in a better position but the important thing is that we made it to the finish line in very challenging conditions".

F2
Qualifying Two Result: Sureshwaren 10th.
Race Two Result: Sureshwaren 11th.

After finishing ourside the points in race one (11th place) - despite having some good speed, Parthiva Sureshwaren was hoping to score some points in race two.

Things were looking good after qualifying as Parthiva would line-up on the grid in 10th place.

The race was completely mental though! Due to the heavy rain the race began behind the safety car and once they released the F2 cars we immediately saw a crash which brought the safety car straight back out. Parthiva had slipped down to 11th. On lap four, there were many incidents behind the safety car and all of a sudden the Indian driver found himself in 7th place! This was when the race was red flagged due to the awful Spa weather. F2 regulations say that there is a 40-mintue time limit on races - after 40 minutes had elapsed conditions were no better, so a result was declared. Unfortunately for Parthiva, the regulations also say that if a race ends with a red flag, the results are taken from the lap before the red flag was shown. This meant that Parthiva finished outside the points in 11th :-(

Disappointment for him on a weekend where he could have bagged some good points, he had the pace - it was just out of his control.

Here's what he had to say:

Parthiva Sureshwaren (@parthivsw):
"Race 2 at Spa Francorchamps red flagged on Lap 4 due to severe rain. I stopped on the grid in 7th. Results taken from previous lap so 11th. 4th in Practice, Qualified in top 10 for both races.11th in race is not what i aimed for but Will take the positives from the weekend".

British GT ChampionshipQualifying Result: Bolisetti/Glew 19th (2nd in class).
Race Result: Bolisetti/Glew DNF.

A decent qualifying session was ruined when during the race the teams front suspension received damage making the car very slow and ultimately leading the team to retirement.

It's the second retirement in two races and they are unfortunately beginning to fall behind in the championship hunt.

British GT Championship (GT4) (1st-3rd)
1) Jody Fannin/Warren Hughes (150pts)
2) Zoe Wenham (97.5)
3) Sailesh Bolisetti/Phil Glew (71)
4) Dominic Evans (70.5)

There are four races to go and 125 points to play for, the championship is still within reach but unlikely without unreliability for Fannin and Hughes. Second place is more realistic, but for sure the team will keep pushing until the end :-)

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