The Force India duo of Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg had to settle for just P15 and P16 on the Shanghai grid today after what Hulkenberg described as a ‘tough’ qualifying session for the team.
Di Resta, however, noted that times were actually very close in Q2, and is confident of being competitive come race day tomorrow.
“It was a very close qualifying session, especially Q2 where finding a few tenths could have gained us another five places on the grid,” said the Scot. “My Q2 lap was good and I think I got the maximum from the car, but it only puts me P15, six tenths off the fastest time of the session.
“I'm still optimistic for the race because the car seems dialled in to the track and we looked strong during the long runs yesterday so I think we can race with the teams ahead of us.”
Hulkenberg complained of some car troubles during the session and, like his team-mate, is optimistic of perhaps picking up some points tomorrow.
“It was quite a tough qualifying session for us, but I think the conditions had changed since free practice and I didn't feel as comfortable with the car,” said the German. “My final lap in Q2 was a little compromised by some traffic coming out of the pits, but I guess P16 reflects the pace we have at the moment and the fact that all the teams around us are very close in terms of one-lap performance.
“We will think hard about the strategy tonight and try our best to move forward in the race. I started P16 in Malaysia and ended up in the points so I will look for a repeat performance.”
Deputy Team Principal Robert Fernley agreed with the analysis of his drivers: points are a possiblity for the team in Shanghai this weekend.
“We always knew that reaching Q3 would be an ambitious target for China, but at the same time we have shown that the developments we brought to the car this week are already paying off and closing the gap,” he said. “I think we are in good shape for tomorrow and I believe we can be up there battling for points in the race. We were pleased with our performance during the long runs on Friday and the tyres are lasting well, so hopefully we can build on that in the race.”