Force India had a ‘frustrating’ day in Japan as they recorded their first ‘double DNF’ of the 2010 season.
Adrian Sutil and Tonio Liuzzi qualified 15th and 17th respectively in the rescheduled qualifying session this morning as they struggled with tyre temperatures on a cooler and slicker than expected track.
Each driver gained at least five places off the start, but Liuzzi was hit by Felipe Massa going into the first corner, knocking him into the wall, and bringing his race to a premature end. The stewards are currently investigating the incident and may punish the Ferrari driver.
“I’m disappointed that for the second race in a row I couldn’t do more than a couple of laps,” Liuzzi said. “At the time I was a passenger really. I had a great start and passed five or six cars before the first corner and thought I was pretty safe but then when I went into turn one I saw Felipe coming up on the inside – I don’t know if he had broken something on the car but he seemed to come into my side like a bullet. I don’t think he was in control of the car at the time, but it’s a shame as it’s another first corner accident and then retirement for me.
“I’m now going to go back to the factory to prepare for Korea and not dwell on this – it happens and we need to move on and concentrate on the next challenge.”
Sutil was running in the top ten when he made his pit stop on Lap 18, and was later chasing down Rubens Barrichello for ninth place when an oil leak ended his race in a big plume of smoke on Lap 45.
It was a real shame today,” said the German. “In qualifying we really struggled with the softer tyres and couldn’t get as good a result as we would have liked but I made a fantastic start off the line and was already in the top ten by the end of the first lap. We came in quite early so I could push when everyone else pitted and I was in for a good shot of the points.
“Then coming up to the end of the race I went into the 130R corner and the tyres started to slide around and smoke started to come out the back of the car. I felt the car let go and then that was it: I had to bring it into the pits. At the time we didn’t know what was wrong, but when I stopped we could see oil coming out of the car. A disappointing end to a hard day, but let’s focus on Korea now.”
Deputy Team Principal Robert Fernley said that the team will bounce back in the next race, something that they will need to do if they are to keep Williams from taking the sixth place in the constructors’ standings that Force India currently occupy.
“Obviously we are very disappointed with today’s outcome,” he said. “Our qualifying performance wasn’t as we hoped and the double DNF is a bitter blow, particularly when we are fighting for championship position. It’s clearly something we need to look into when we get back to the factory next week so we can make the most of the opportunities that come our way. We will come back stronger in Korea for sure and look to regain our step in the constructors’ title race.”