Force India Upbeat Despite Missing Q3

The Force India pair of Adrian Sutil and Tonio Liuzzi will start tomorrow’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from thirteenth and sixteenth respectively as they attempt to out-score Williams and claim sixth position in the constructors’ championship.

The team are just one point behind their nearest rivals and, despite being out-qualified by Rubens Barrichello, who will start from seventh, both drivers and team management at Force India were happy about how qualifying went.

“I am pleased with how qualifying went for us,” said Sutil. “It was not easy in the last few races but it was a clean lap today, close to the top ten and it puts us in a strong position for the race. The VJM03 worked very well and the balance was good – we could even do three laps on the soft tyre, which is unusual in qualifying.

“We finished very close to the top ten and now the clear goal is to break into the points. I am convinced we can get up there based on the performance throughout the season – we need a good start and strategy and a race that comes to us. It’s not easy but we will push and do our best. We need some points, that’s absolutely the main goal.

Liuzzi also sounded satisfied with the performance of his car, and blamed traffic for the fact that he could not qualify any higher. “We were in good shape today,” said the Italian. “We didn’t have enough for Q3 but we’ve shown a step in performance from the previous races. The balance was good and with the second set of tyres it was getting better and better.

“Unfortunately I got some traffic with Petrov on my last lap in the last sector and lost about three tenths, which cost us at least a position or two. We do know though that the car is quick and I think we are in good shape and for the race tomorrow.”

Team principal Vijay Mallya put a positive spin on this qualifying result, noting the improvement from this time last year (when Liuzzi and Sutil qualified 15th and 17th). He insists that the coveted sixth place is still a realistic target tomorrow.

“A very good performance from the team today,” Mallya said in summary. “Last year we struggled to get out of Q1 and today we were just under three tenths from Q3, showing just how much we have improved over the past 12 months. It also demonstrates just how hard everyone has worked and is a real fillip going into tomorrow’s race.

“We are in a good position to get into the points, our race pace has been very strong and we’re all hungry to get back into sixth again. If we can finish the season with only teams who have previously won the constructors’ championship ahead of us it’s going to be the icing on the cake for what’s been a great season for us so far.”