Liuzzi handled penalty in tricky qualifying for Force India


Force India struggled by their standards in qualifying at Silverstone today. Both drivers failed to make it through into Q2, and Tonio Liuzzi was handed a five place grid penalty for impeding Nico Hulkenberg during the session.

Adrian Sutil will start tomorrow’s race from 11th place whilst Liuzzi, who originally qualified 15th, will start from 20th thanks to his punishment.

“We have had a good car the whole weekend but we struggled a bit with the tyre grip today so the result is a little bit disappointing in the end,” said Sutil, who actually finished Q1 fourth fastest. “In Q1 I could set a good time on the hard tyre and it looked really good for a Q3 slot but then in Q2 I just couldn’t get a good lap any more and couldn’t go any quicker.

“We need to investigate why we couldn’t go faster on the softer tyre but it’s not the end of the world and P11 is a good position to start. The top 10 is of course the goal for the weekend, so it’s important to finish the race, then anything is possible.”

Liuzzi couldn’t understand why he could only set the fifteenth fastest time in Q2, and said it was a simple misunderstanding which resulted in his penalty.

“We need to work to understand why we were not so fast this session as we believed a Q3 position was possible with both cars based on the performance in practice,” said the Italian. “In Q1 it went OK and the balance in both the high and slow speed corners was quite good. Unfortunately I only got one flying lap on my first run and then on the second couldn’t improve. I think P12 or higher was there, but it can happen.

“We’ll now start 20th because of the penalty – we thought that we had to keep Nico [Hulkenberg] behind and I didn’t realise he was on a hot lap. From there it’s not going to be easy but there are overtaking spots here at least, plus the incentive of racing in front of our home crowd.”

Vijay Mallya, the Force India team principal, is still confident of a decent race result despite the lower-than-expected grid positions. “It’s a shame we couldn’t produce a better qualifying result at our home race this weekend, but we shouldn’t be too downcast by the starting positions,” he said. “As we saw in Valencia, a lot is still possible from these positions and we could still yet get a good haul of points.

“Both drivers couldn’t quite get the optimum lap but our performance in the earlier part of the weekend shows that the pace is there. We’ve gone well at Silverstone before and the drivers feel confident round here so we’ve got to keep focussed right till the end.”