Both Daniel Ricciardo and Narain Karthikeyan managed to out-qualify the two Virgin Racing drivers today in India yet they will start behind Jerome D’Ambrosio after each receiving a five-place grid penalty.
Ricciardo earned his penalty after HRT needed to change the gearbox in his car, whilst Karthikeyan was penalised for holding up Michael Schumacher at the end of Q1.
However, Karthikeyan was not going to let the small matter of a five-place grid penalty ruin his excitement of driving at his inaugural home race. He will start from P23, once place behind Ricciardo.
“We got the potential out of the car and beat both of the Virgins and I am proud of it,” he said. “I was up on my teammate but made a small mistake. Nevertheless, I'm very happy with the way I drove and the position I achieved.
“I think this was the maximum that we could get and the team did a fantastic job to get us ahead of Virgin. It's a fantastic sensation racing in front of my home crowd and for tomorrow I am aiming to finish in the best position possible”.
Ricciardo was not expecting to be over six tenths of a second faster than D’Ambrosio today in qualifying, but was nevertheless very pleased with the result.
“The position I achieved today was quite good, it's one of our best finishes in qualifying this year ahead of our rivals,” said the Australian rookie. “I was a fair way ahead of D'Ambrosio which is nice. In FP3 we had some issues and couldn't do any preparations for qualifying, so we have to be very happy with the result.
“There are still a few things that we need to be on top of but we are always looking better for the race, I didn't think qualifying would be our strong point so I'm looking forward to tomorrow where I hope to end up ahead of the cars I beat in qualifying today”.
HRT Team Principal Colin Kolles was very enthusiastic about the result, labelling it an ‘almost perfect’ qualifying session. Presumably Red Bull are the only team that could potentially make this claim today, and he must be speaking relatively.
“Things worked perfectly in the garage and we managed to have everything ready just in time for an almost perfect qualifying session,” he said. “Both drivers improved their times lap by lap. We could have gone quicker by putting the sectors together but beating both Virgins is satisfactory. It is a shame that both Narain and Daniel will have to start from the back of the grid after the 5 position penalty but I am confident that the two of them can have a good race tomorrow”.