Despite seemingly being more competitive at the Shanghai International Circuit this weekend than seven days ago in Bahrain, Robert Fernley feels the starting positions for the Sahara Force India F1 Team are a fair reflection of where the team stands at this time of the season.
The deputy team principal of the Silverstone-based team saw Sergio Perez advance to the top ten shootout for the first time in 2018 and then qualify eighth, while Esteban Ocon will start twelfth after a small mistake at the final turn cost him the possibility of a top ten start of his own.
Fernley is happy with the progress being made in such short order with the VJM11 after a torrid start to the season seeing the team only having one point on the scoreboard in the opening two races, with technical director Andy Green feeling there may be a ‘fundamental’ flaw with the car earlier this weekend.
“We’ve looked a bit more competitive here, building on the progress we made in Bahrain, and I think today’s result is a fair reflection of where we stand at the moment,” said Fernley. “The team is working hard to improve the car session by session and we’re seeing the result of all those efforts.
“Sergio’s lap in Q3 was excellent and eighth place on the grid presents a good opportunity to score points. Esteban has been matching Sergio all weekend and was unlucky to miss out on Q3 today.
“Starting outside the top ten gives him some more freedom with tyre strategy tomorrow which could play into his hands.”