Paul Di Resta was fairly satisfied with 14th on the grid for tomorrow's Malaysian Grand Prix as Force India found themselves towards the back of the midfield pack again. The Briton was four tenths away from the time required to get into Q3 but did at least manage to outqualify teammate Nico Hulkenberg, levelling the head-to-head record between the two.
Di Resta admitted to making a small mistake at the end of the lap but hopes his race pace will allow him to compensate for that.
“We definitely improved the car between final practice and qualifying, but it was a tough session and it got quite a bit warmer during the two hours between qualifying and practice. My laps in Q2 were good and I got sectors one and two right, but I maybe lost out in the final sector, which I never really maximised. I think P14 is a reasonable place to start and hopefully our race pace and tyre management will pay off tomorrow. The other variable is the weather because there is always a high risk of showers late in the afternoon.”
Hulkenberg will start two places behind his teammate in 16th and admitted that was the best he could manage today. First and foremost, the German is hoping to make the finish after last weekend's disappointment but he is aiming to challenge the cars ahead.
“You only have to look at the times to see how close things were today. Half a tenth would have given me two or three places, while finding a tenth would have put me twelfth on the grid. To be honest, though, I don't think there was any more to come because I pretty much got the maximum from the car. Now it's all about racing well and using the strategy to try and come away with a result. Having already missed most of the race last weekend in Melbourne, it almost feels like the first race of my season, so hopefully I can go the distance and have a strong performance. Tyre degradation will be a key factor in the race and the chance of rain could also mix things up.”
Deputy Team Principal Robert Fernley refused to be too downhearted given the closeness of the grid and still thinks a points finish is possible tomorrow.
“Overall we can't be too disappointed with our qualifying showing today. Yes, we would have liked to have been a little higher up, but looking over the timesheets shows just how closely matched the grid is. In fact, just three tenths cover the cars from ninth to 16th and with such margins the slightest error can cost you three or four positions. Both Paul and Nico delivered consistent laps, although it's fair to say they were both marginally compromised by the release of the Mercedes cars in Q2. However, I remain optimistic for tomorrow and believe we're in good shape, and that our race pace will allow us to get up there challenging for points.”