Force India had their best qualifying of the year in a rain-hit Malaysia today, getting both cars into the final part of qualifying.
Adrian Sutil will start from fourth on the grid, behind Mark Webber, Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel, while teammate Tonio Liuzzi starts from tenth.
Both the team and drivers managed to interpret the ever-changing conditions in Sepang better than other more-established teams like Ferrari and McLaren. Sutil and Liuzzi went out early in Q1 on intermediate tyres, which guaranteed them passage into Q2 when the weather worsened.
A drying track and a quick switch back to intermediate tyres allowed Adrian Sutil to be third fastest in Q2, while Liuzzi set the eight fastest time and the two drivers used extreme wet tyres in Q3 to get their final grid slots.
These grid positions are Force India’s best since the 2009 Italian Grand Prix.
Adrian Sutil, who has been strong in qualifying all season, was understandably very happy with his second row grid slot. “It was a great qualifying again for us. As I expected it rained at 4pm, I said that yesterday I think! It was challenging and the conditions changed a lot over the sessions. Sometimes it was a lot of rain, sometimes half wet, half dry so it was very important to choose the right tyres.
“I think we did a great job in those conditions and every session we did the optimum. I am so happy to be in this position now. It’s a great achievement and my team really deserved it. They did a fantastic job: being there on the right time on the right tyre was very important. My time in the end was good for P4: a great job all round.”
Tonio Liuzzi is happy to be starting in the top ten for the first time this season. “We can be happy about getting through to Q3 as this was our target for this weekend. It was a good qualifying, Q3 started very wet, very similar to Brazil last year, and then it dried up very quickly at the end.
“I had a problem on the last lap with a locking front brake and lost the last run but that’s how it is in these conditions: you have to get the right spot at the right time. Tomorrow will be a tough race from where we are. We have a lot of quick cars around us but as we’ve seen today we are strong in all conditions. I’m looking forward to it.”
Force India boss Vijay Mallya said the qualifying performance was a great team effort, and is hoping his drivers can convert their grid positions into strong race finishes. “Today was a really brilliant team performance, not just from the drivers but from the pit wall and the garage. The interpretation of the data and weather forecast, the implementation in the garage and the calls from the drivers all came together beautifully to give our best qualifying performance this season. It sets us up well for the race, but as we know tomorrow’s result is all that counts. We’ve got to keep this spirit up, keep our heads down and go for the maximum we can. I don’t want to tempt fate with predictions, but I would hope we could convert this into a serious points haul.”