Issues with the car prevented the Sahara Force India F1 Team from getting any higher than 15th and 16th in qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix with the two drivers not feeling overly confident of a good result in Sunday’s race.
Sergio Perez did make it through into Q2, but with the team wanting to focus on tyre strategy for the race his time of 15th wasn’t bettered upon and he is hoping that that tyre conservation strategy can prove to be worthwhile on race day.
The Mexican explained: “I had a couple of pretty good, clean laps in Q1 and that was enough to take me through to Q2. I think we got the maximum from the first session and that’s why we approached Q2 with the race in mind because having enough sets of new tyres will make an important difference on Sunday. I’m looking forward to the race and seeing what we can do. We need to look at the strategy options tonight to make sure we pick the right one. If we can make a good start and find a nice rhythm tomorrow, we can certainly look at challenging for points.”
Rather than sacrifice starting position for tyre strategy, it appears as though Nico Hulkenberg didn’t even have that pleasure as issues surrounding lack of development hindered any progress higher than 16th: “It was disappointing to go out in Q1 but unfortunately the final lap just was not quick enough. I lost a bit of lap time with a small mistake as I was pushing hard, trying to get everything out of the car and that caused us to miss out.
“We know there is a lot of work ahead of us to develop this car and get its performance to the level we expect from it, but we know this is a process that takes time: it is just a matter of pushing hard to get better week after week. Looking ahead to tomorrow, we are aiming to be fighting for some points. It is not going to be an easy task but we will give it our best shot.”
Force India’s Deputy Team Principal Bob Fernley admitted after the session that the results didn’t come as a shock to him: “There were no major surprises in today’s qualifying session. Sergio did a great job in Q1 and was able to deliver a good lap when he was called to do it. He didn’t have much of a chance to improve his position in Q2 as we opted to shift our focus to the strategy for tomorrow’s race. Nico was unlucky to get knocked out in Q1: he was improving his final lap but unfortunately all the sectors didn’t come together. We still line up in P15 and P16 and this should give us a chance to be in the fight for points, which was our objective coming into this weekend.”