Both Sahara Force India’s missed out on getting through to the final part of qualifying in Montreal. Nico Hulkenberg will start the Canadian Grand Prix from eleventh on the grid, while Sergio Perez will line-up directly behind him on the grid in thirteenth.
Hulkenberg missed out on getting through to the third part of qualifying by 0.045s in a closely fought session, but admitted that the team knew it would be a close run thing to make it into Q3. He remains optimistic that he can keep his points scoring run going in Montreal.
“I was close to making the top ten – just half a tenth would have made the difference, but I think we’ve known since yesterday it was going to be quite tight in qualifying,” said Hulkenberg. “Having said that, P11 is a good starting position: it gives us some flexibility in terms of the strategy; I get to choose my starting tyres, and I’m feeling quite optimistic about our race pace.
“The pack is very close in terms of performance but it should be an interesting race because it’s a circuit where overtaking is possible and history has shown that anything can happen here.”
Team-mate Perez was 0.172s behind Hulkenberg in qualifying that ultimately resulted in the Mexican finishing thirteenth. He had a tough session with the handling of the car not ideal, but is confident he can have a good race and score some points.
“It was quite a tricky qualifying session that turned out to be a bit harder than we expected,” admitted Perez. “I’m starting P13, but I’m still feeling very positive about our chances in the race because this is such an unusual track where you can move up the field and take advantage of whatever happens in the race. We have good top speed and that will certainly be important tomorrow.
“I think we have shown already this year that Sunday is what counts and I’m confident that we can score points and beat some of the cars ahead of us. We will need to get the strategy right – it’s always a choice between one and two stops here and we’ll need to evaluate which one gives us the best chance for the race.”
Deputy Team Principal Robert Fernley admitted the team were lacking something in the performance of their cars that would have allowed them to get into the third part of qualifying, but ultimately feels the team are not in bad shape heading into the race.
“It was a very tight qualifying session today,” said Fernley. “Starting in P11 and P13 means we are not in bad shape, but some of the teams around us seemed to have the edge today and we just missed out on Q3 by a small margin.
“In terms of car performance both drivers are feeling comfortable and the set-up changes made overnight moved us in the right direction, which gives us every reason to feel more optimistic for tomorrow. The race pace of most of the mid-pack teams has been quite similar and we are certainly up there and in contention to race for some good points on Sunday.”