08/09/2012

Italian GP - Saturday Analysis

FP3 Results: di Resta 3rd (1:24.849), Hulkenberg 9th (1:25.289), Karthikeyan 23rd (1:28.035).
Qualifying Results: di Resta 4th (will start 9th)(1:24.304), Karthikeyan 22nd (will start 21st)(1:27.441), Hulkenberg 24th (no time set).

Promising pace ultimately ended in disappointment for the Sahara Force India crew.

Paul di Resta did a cracking lap in Q3 to secure 4th place. Unfortunately the Scottish driver has a 5-place grid penalty for a gearbox change, so he'll start 9th. Actually, the data shows that Paul's Q3 lap was not an optimal one!

Paul di Resta
Best S1 time: 27.251 (0.211 slower than the best S1 time, Hamilton)
Best S2 time: 28.714 (0.118 slower than the best S2 time, Hamilton)
Best S3 time: 28.266 (0.157 slower than the best S3 time, Alonso)
Best possible laptime: (S1+S2+S3) = (27.251 + 28.714 + 28.366) = 1:24.231
Actual laptime: 1:24.304
Difference: (actual laptime - best possible laptime) = (1:24.304 - 1:24.231) = 0.073 seconds slower.

If Paul did manage to achieve this optimal laptime, he would have actually qualified 3rd, ahead of Felipe Massa! Although with the penalty that would become 8th. Not trying to take anything away from Paul here though, he did a splendid job today! Just pointing out the car still has more pace to show :-)

Nico Hulkenberg was even unluckier than Paul! Nico stopped the car just after he started his first timed lap in Q1. Initially it looked like a driver error (braking too late for the corner) but it turned out to be a fuel pressure problem, associated with the electronics. The German will start P24.

So, a shame for the SFI boys. It could have been P3 & P4 on the grid, it probably should have been P4 & P5 on the grid but it actually was P9 & P24 ..

Review quotes are here.

Despite the qualifying positions, the team should still have a good race tomorrow. Both cars have the pace for the top five which means they will be on the attack tomorrow. Monza is a track where overtaking is possible, as proved today in the brilliant GP2 & GP3 races where there were almost constant overtaking manoeuvres. Add to this KERS & the two DRS zones; we have the recipe for a great race for SFI.

The ideal situation would be similar to what happened at the last race in Spa. Both drivers making good starts then an incident taking out a few rivals followed by a safety car to bunch the pack up once more. Nico Hulkenberg will particularly be hoping this happens. It's not such a major factor for Paul di Resta who starts relatively close to the front anyway, but for Nico, this situation will probably be his only chance of major points. Without this situation, minor points are still available though - but it is pretty crucial he gets past the Caterham's, Marussia's, HRT's & Maldonado (who starts 22nd) as soon as possible.

I am excited about this race purely because we should see the SFI cars on an all-out attack, and that's something i don't ever remember seeing this team do in the past. It should be an enthralling race!

Unlike Sahara Force India, Narain Karthikeyan had a fantastic qualifying session! Beating teammate de la Rosa for the first time this season. Then getting promoted to 21st after Maldonado's grid-penalties. The aim for Narain in the race is simple, beat his teammate. He's already proven he's got the speed to do so, he needs to maintain that pace over a race distance. You never know, if other cars are unreliable, or if there are a lot of incidents, Narain may just grab a point a two - unlikely, but possible.

As always, best of luck to all three of our drivers! I hope we'll be smiling at this time tomorrow :-)

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