Force India are confident of making Q3 on Saturday after good performances in the two free practice sessions today at Monaco.
Adrian Sutil finished both sessions inside the top ten, while his teammate Tonio Liuzzi finished thirteenth and fifteenth in the morning and afternoon sessions respectively.
With 24 cars on the track at time, it was difficult for many drivers to find the space to do a completely uninterrupted lap and light rain towards the end of the afternoon session also had an adverse effect on lap times.
Adrian Sutil was particularly confident after today’s running, and thinks that the team will be fully prepared for qualifying on Saturday. “It was a very good day for me. I’m very happy with my performance and with the car. The set-up was really good and we didn’t have to make any major changes over the day, which means there is not so much work for tomorrow and Saturday’s final practice.
“The car is going very consistently and I could set good lap times so the end classification looks promising, but we can also be very satisfied about the pace of the long runs. We didn’t have many problems with the tyre compounds here, just a bit of graining on the soft one, but it’s under control and nothing to worry about. Overall I think we look pretty strong for a practice day and can be confident going into qualifying.”
Tonio Liuzzi was frustrated by the sheer number of cars on the track today, but still sounded positive about his qualifying prospects on Saturday. Speaking after the two sessions, Tonio did have trouble remembering what day it was: “It was a difficult Friday (?!) due to the traffic, as can be expected round here. It was tough with 24 cars in the field but you just need to have sensible driving from the others, particularly given the time differences between cars. But this isn’t going to change – Monaco is always like this and it is always a bit of a gamble but we have to throw our lot in as well.
“Even though the final position is not optimum, overall we can be pretty happy as the car is very good on a high fuel load. We need to improve the balance on the low fuel runs as we still struggled a little with the rear end grip but in general I think we are in a better shape compared to the last race. We have quite a lot of data we can work on tomorrow to try to improve everything for Saturday.”
Force India Chief Engineer Dominic Harlow explains what the team were focussing on: “Our programme for today looked to concentrate on the super soft tyre long run performance after last year’s race where the tyre suffered quite high degradation in the early stages.
“We were also looking at cooling and brake set-up for the race here, both of which will be important on Sunday. Because of the light rain arriving at the end of FP2, things were accelerated slightly, with us running the super soft tyre slightly earlier to ensure that we got the data we needed.
“The drivers made full use of the laps they had to get comfortable on the circuit and the areas of new surface seem to have improved the grip level slightly. If we handle the busy track correctly on Saturday we can look forward to a competitive qualifying performance.”
Team principal Vijay Mallya shares his driver’s concerns about the back-markers, but thinks his team can do well this weekend. “Today we were very satisfied with the pace of our longer runs and the positions in both sessions were encouraging. However what we have seen is that the speed difference between the cars – sometimes up to five seconds – will make qualifying a lottery.
“We believe we have the potential to be right up there fighting for Q3 but we’ll have to see how it goes in on Saturday. The right ingredients are there, we just need them to mix together in the right way.”