Force India drivers Paul Di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg will both start lower than expected in tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix as their practice errors came back to haunt them. Di Resta was knocked out in Q2 and will start eleventh and the lack of high-fuel running after his crash yesterday leaves him with more questions than answers heading into tomorrow’s race.
“It was quite a tough session with traffic today and even on my quick lap in Q2 I was slightly compromised in the second sector. I locked a wheel and it may only have cost half a tenth, but that’s how close the margin was to the top ten. I think given what happened yesterday with losing so much track time we can be pretty happy with our performance today. We have got ourselves up there, close to the top ten and in with a chance of points. For tomorrow it’s clear that tyre wear will be a big issue for everyone, but hopefully we can use the strategy to challenge the people in front. There are some question marks going into the race because I’ve done no high fuel running, but we have data with the other car.”
Hulkenberg put himself on the back foot with a crash at Degner 2 in morning practice and although he recovered to reach Q3, the subsequent gearbox change has left him with a five place grid penalty. The German driver must come through from fifteenth but still believes he can salvage some points.
“The build-up to qualifying was quite intense because the guys were working hard to repair my car after the accident this morning. It was not a big impact, but the angle was unfortunate and there was quite a lot to fix – so all credit to the boys who got me out with enough time to set a time in Q1. The car felt good straight away and we made it through to Q3, which was always the target. We then took a strategic decision to save tyres so I didn’t set a time. That opens up the strategy for tomorrow, especially because we knew I would get a five-place grid penalty for changing the gearbox. There’s still a chance to get points tomorrow if we can make our strategy work.”