Force India endured a disappointing qualifying session today in Korea as Tonio Liuzzi failed to get out of Q1 and Adrian Sutil could only finish fourteenth.
“Although P14 isn’t exactly what we would have hoped for, we were still quite close to the top 12 and with a bit of luck could have been even closer to Q3,” Sutil commented. “In Q2 I had some traffic on my first lap and then my second was good, but it was tough out there with the tyres.
“That said, it’s a great track they have built here. I really enjoyed driving on it – there’s a lot of challenges and kinks and it was really so grippy at the end of the session that it was a real pleasure to drive each lap. From where we are on the grid it’s going to be a great race.”
Although Liuzzi only qualified eighteenth, he will start seventeenth once Vitaly Petrov‘s five-place grid penalty – awarded for his antics off the start in Suzuka – is applied. The Italian blamed tyre wear for his poor lap times:
“We suffered with a lot of graining on the soft tyres today,” he explained. “We missed out on the last run in the morning because of a puncture and didn’t try the option tyres, but we didn’t expect them to grain as badly as they did. The first two laps of the final run were good and the first two sectors of the third lap were looking really good – I was on for a 1:38.2 at that point – but then the tyres grained so badly I lost a lot of time through the last two corners as the car started to understeer a lot. Based on this wear rate it’s going to be an interesting race for sure.”
Vijay Mallya was very complimentary about the venue and is optimistic about his team’s chances tomorrow in the race, despite the poor qualifying. “The Korean Grand Prix organisers have done a fantastic job with the circuit and the facilities here,” said the team principal. “The track seems to be a real modern classic that has got great feedback from the drivers and I think this bodes extremely well for a thrilling race tomorrow.
“It hasn’t been the kindest to us here today: we were competitive throughout the morning and weren’t so far from the top 12 in the afternoon, but we’ve been suffering a lot with the tyre graining and that’s what caught us out in qualifying. That said we’re still in a good position for the race tomorrow and I’m very hopeful of us doing well. I am sure the race will throw up a lot of unusual opportunities and we’ve got to be well poised to take any that come our way.”