Friday Analysis

FP1 Results: di Resta 14th (1:24.559), Bianchi 18th (1:25.715).
FP2 Results: di Resta 7th (1:22.794), Hulkenberg 13th (1:23.713), Karthikeyan 24th (1:27.822).

It was a very unusual day for the Sahara Force India drivers.

During FP1, the car didn't seem overly competitive in any sector and Paul di Resta was sounding quite distressed on the radio when complaining about the rear of the car being "unpredictable" under acceleration.

The good news from the morning session though was that our reserve driver, Jules Bianchi, got some long overdue dry weather running. This is what he had to say:

Jules Bianchi (Sahara Force India reserve driver):
"Lots of laps for me today, which was useful and I'm getting more used to the car now. I started off by doing a lot of short runs so the team could evaluate some test items, then I did a couple of longer runs towards the end. It was difficult to find the limit and I was not totally comfortable with the car today, so I think there is some more laptime still to come. It's always valuable to get time in the car on a race weekend and hopefully the team will learn a lot from the data".

Post-FP1, ex-F1 driver, Johnny Herbert said (as part of Sky Sports F1's coverage) that he believes Sahara Force India were in good shape this weekend. I found that a rather odd comment considering the positions we'd finished in FP1 - maybe he has some inside information?

Anyhow, FP2. The car looked much improved and both drivers did well before the rain hit. Meanwhile Narain Karthikeyan made steady improvement during the session, and could have done even better but he was also halted by the rain.

This is what they said:

Paul di Resta (Sahara Force India driver):
"I think the most important thing today is that we managed to get some good information on some test items – which is something that has not been easy at previous races with the mixed weather. Even though it rained again this afternoon, we completed a lot of work before it arrived and have some useful set-up data going into the weekend. I managed to run on both the medium and soft compounds today, but we missed out on getting the long run data because of the rain".

Nico Hulkenberg (Sahara Force India driver):
"Quite a positive day overall, but like everybody we missed out on getting the long run data. Apart from that, I felt comfortable in the session and we got through most of the set-up programme. I went out towards the end on intermediates to get a feel for the wet conditions, but the track was drying very quickly so there was not too much to learn".

Narain Karthikeyan (HRT driver):
"The Hungaroring is virtually a new track for me because it's been seven years since I raced here, so I would have liked to have done more miles in the dry, but the rain caught us all by surprise. The track is pretty bumpy and quite technical so it's quite tough to get used to, but I think we've done a good job. We’re not far off our main rivals and I think that tomorrow we can take them on".

and Jakob Andreasen (Sahara Force India chief engineer):
"We made the most of the dry morning session to run through a busy aero programme with Jules and gathered some useful data. He did a good job once again although we struggled to find the sweet spot with the car in the morning session. Nico was back alongside Paul for the afternoon and we focused on fine-tuning the cars as well as understanding the tyres. It was a shame to lose the final half of the session to rain, but we made some progress with the car and have a good idea of the direction we need to take tomorrow".

So the on-track action was over for the day, but there was something very interesting to come! Andrew Green (Sahara Force India's technical director) took part in today's press conference, and he had some very intriguing words. Unfortunately there is no video uploaded as of yet, but a full transcript can be found here.

The key thing to come from him was the following:

"It's a tricky time. We brought our last big development to Silverstone. We didn't really get a chance to evaluate it in the wet conditions. Beyond that it's about optimising what we have and getting to know what we have and getting it to run at its peak. Development now really is turning to next year. For a team of our size we can't afford to develop a car much beyond this point in the season. It's really a case of trying to optimise what we have".

Additionally, Andrew went on to state that the development focus has already shifted to 2013.

These comments really are highly intriguing. On face value, Andrew Green is saying that the team is now focusing on 2013. However i think this might be mind games for other teams, let me explain. The key here is this sentence: "For a team of our size we can't afford to develop a car much beyond this point in the season". That's not true at all - we've seen in previous seasons that the team are good at developing in the second half of a season, and it could be argued that we usually develop more than anybody else. Additionally, we made good development towards the end of the season pre-Sahara investment. With that money, there is even more possible scope for development later in the season.

On the other hand, it's always been a policy of the team to sacrifice the first four flyaway races of the season (in terms of upgrades) to focus on the baseline pace of the car. Then start bringing upgrades during the European races onwards. The only way i think Andrew's comments can be taken as true is if the team want to follow the philosophy of other teams and be 100% ready for race one next season.

Personally i think this is just mind-games for our rivals ... "yeah, we've stopped development, you can too!". I'll let you make up your own mind; either way i fully support the decisions of management.

Anyhow, onto some lighter stuff.

Here is a feature Sky Sports F1 are doing over the course of the year:

(Sky Sports F1 pit stop standings, click to enlarge) 

Basically the quickest pitstop for each team is ranked each race. 12pts for topping the table, 11pts for 2nd, 10pts for 3rd etc. etc. It's nice to see Force India ahead of their close rivals!

Sky Sports F1 are also doing a buzz game this season. For those you don't know a buzz game is where you have a small hoop, around a wire, and the aim is to thread the hoop around the wire without making contact. If contact is made the game buzzes and you get a 10 second time penalty. Each weekend they randomly decide who's turn it is - and this time it was the turn of Force India.

(Jules playing the F1 buzz game with Nico & Paul watching on, click to enlarge)

Impressively, all three Force India drivers are in the top ten:

(F1 buzz game standings, click to enlarge)

Right this has been a rather long article - i will leave you in peace now! Thanks for reading.


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