21/09/2012

Singapore GP - Friday Analysis

FP1 Results: Hulkenberg 7th (1:51.658), di Resta 8th (1:51.943).
FP2 Results: di Resta 6th (1:49.300), Hulkenberg 7th (1:49.339), Karthikeyan 24th (1:54.514).

Both cars inside the top eight in both sessions for Sahara Force India, that's pretty impressive so far. The big question is; was it genuine pace or was it because others were sandbagging?

FP1 was all about understanding the car and getting feedback on how the upgrades are working. The team are being pretty tight-lipped about the upgrades this weekend. However there have definitely been revisions to the front & rear wings. I also noticed some difference on the sidepods too, i can't seem to tell exactly what to be honest, something just looks different - i may be wrong though, perhaps my mind is playing tricks on me!

In FP2 the drivers started to push a little more and focused (mostly) on race pace. Sahara Force India appear to be best of the rest this weekend; behind McLaren, Red Bull & Alonso for pace, but ahead of the rest. However, we don't know the fuel loads - so it could just seem like we're quick ... but, from the on-board shots of our cars, it didn't look like we were on low fuel. The car seemed very sluggish on turn-in to corners and the VJM05 wasn't squirming around much on exit - that suggests a decent amount of fuel.

My guess is that we'll be slower than those mentioned above (McLaren, Red Bull & Alonso) plus slower than the Mercedes cars who appeared to be heavily sandbagging. Apart from these seven cars, the data seems to suggest we'll be next in the pecking order. The crucial thing from the SFI's point of view is that Sauber seem to be struggling terribly for speed - on pure pace it looks like it'll be their worst race of the season so far. However they might be able to pull off a two stop race when most will be doing three stops, so let's see how they do. We'll discuss strategy more when we have a confirmed grid, post-qualifying.

Both our drivers did a good job today though, no mistakes, and both remarkably consistent - i would be very surprised if they are not next to each other on the grid; that's how similar their pace seems to be this weekend.

Meanwhile, Narain Karthikeyan had similarly close pace to his teammate, Pedro de la Rosa, in FP2 (the Indian driver missed FP1 as reserve driver, Qing Hua Ma, got to driver the car). Narain was only 0.066 seconds behind in FP2 on both drivers quickest laps whereas on race pace, Narain was about 0.1 seconds behind per lap. Can Narain out-qualify Pedro for the second time in two races? It's certainly possible!

I'll leave you with the post-Friday quotes and information about the one thing that Narain did win today:

(Narain Karthikeyan had the honour of reaching the highest vertical distance today!)

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