Force India locked-out the seventh row of the European Grand Prix grid today in qualifying – a frustrating result at a venue where the team had high hopes of a strong performance.
“It’s been a disappointing day as we showed a genuine pace this morning (in Free Practice 3) and couldn’t quite deliver this afternoon,” said Vijay Mallya, the team principal. “It’s something to work on tonight and come back strong in the race tomorrow. We’ve shown good pace here before and in fact last year we started 12th and 16th and finished 10th and 12th in the race so there’s still everything to work towards.”
Adrian Sutil was fourth fastest in free practice this morning, but when it came to qualifying, thirteenth was the best the German could manage. “This morning the car felt really good and I could push on both the prime and the option tyres, and it showed in the time I was able to do,” said the German, “but in Q2 I had a clean lap but the grip just didn’t seem to be there.
“Over the whole session it was so hard and we couldn’t get the tyres to work – such a big difference from the morning session. It’s obviously very disappointing as we looked very strong here and we didn’t change much from this morning.
“I’m now concentrating on the race – we had a good event here last year and, as we saw in Montreal, our race pace is very strong so there’s always opportunities to make up positions.”
Tonio Liuzzi was seventh in third practice, but could only translate that into fourteenth spot on the Valencia grid. “This morning we were really quick and it didn’t start too badly in Q1 for us so we were very positive about getting a good result,” said the Italian.
“It got very hot this afternoon, perhaps seven or eight degrees hotter than in free practice this morning, and it seemed to have a big effect on the tyres.
“Both Adrian and myself had big issues with the soft tyres in Q2 and had a lot of understeer. It’s a real shame as both yesterday and this morning we were looking very competitive and we had hoped for more.
“We’re not giving up as there are so many possibilities in the race – just look at Montreal where we had the accident at the start, but fought to the end and still picked up two points.”