It was a very disappointing afternoon in the sun for the Sahara Force India as Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez were eliminated from qualifying in the first eighteen-minute session at the Circuit de Catalunya.
Hulkenberg was disappointed with his qualifying after finishing twelfth in final practice, but felt he was hindered by the increased wind on Saturday afternoon. Despite his seventeenth place on the grid, he feels he can fight for a better finish in the race on Sunday after feeling his race pace is on par with that of the teams ahead of them on the grid.
“Barcelona is always a big test of downforce and car balance, and that’s where we are struggling at the moment, so it made for a difficult day,” insisted Hulkenberg.
“To be honest, I was hoping for a bit more than P17 because I was P12 in final practice, but it was much hotter and windier this afternoon which didn’t help us. My final lap was not great, but it’s not easy when the car is working in such a narrow window.
“The long run performance yesterday looked more promising so I would like to think we can race with the Sauber’s and the McLaren’s tomorrow.”
Team-mate Perez will start eighteenth, and has been struggling for pace all weekend, but knew before the weekend even began that he was set to struggle at this circuit. Despite joining his team-mate on the penultimate row of the grid, he feels he could have a more competitive race than he did in qualifying.
“It hasn’t been an ideal weekend so far, even though we always knew this was going to be one of our weaker circuits in qualifying,” said Perez.
“We just don’t have the performance in the car at the moment and, on a track with so many high-speed corners, that really hurts your lap time.
“However, we have to remain optimistic about the race: we may be starting in a low position, but that doesn’t mean we cannot fight hard and we know that our race pace is looking more competitive.
“It’s going to be hard, but it’s a long race and we will give everything to try and get a good result.”