HRT's Narain 22nd on the grid; di Resta qualifies 13th for Force India
Sahara Force India had enough reasons to be excited in its first ever Formula One home race at the Buddh International Circuit (BIC) here on Saturday.
Adrian Sutil, who earned his season-best qualifying result of eighth place with a timing of 1:26.140, was pleased with his performance.
“We've been saying all week that this is a special race for us, so I'm very happy with today's qualifying performance. We are so determined to do well here and today's result is the first step towards that,” the German said.
Sutil was hopeful of improving upon his 11th place finish in Korea. “I think it was the maximum we could achieve from the session. The balance of the car was excellent and I really enjoy this circuit, which seems to suit my driving style.
“But tomorrow is the important day and now we have to think hard about our strategy. I feel very comfortable with the car and I think we will be more competitive than we were in Korea.”
Team Principal Vijay Mallya was thrilled with Sutil's showing. “I'm delighted to see a Sahara Force India starting the very first Indian Grand Prix from the fourth row of the grid. The whole team has worked very hard to bring our final upgrade package here this weekend and I think that showed in our performance today.”
di Resta disappoints
However, the other driver of the team, Paul di Resta, was disappointed to end up at the 13th spot following his 1:26.503 in Q2. “I struggled with a bit of under-steer in the high-speed corners and we couldn't fix it during the session. The conditions cooled a bit, but didn't help us because I couldn't get the balance quite.”
Nevertheless, the Briton, who would start from P12 following grid penalties, was optimistic of grabbing a few points on race day. “I feel that points are still achievable tomorrow and we seem quite strong on the longer runs. There's a hard task ahead, but I will stay focused and try to do the best job possible in the team's home race,” he said.
“Paul has also been very strong, but unfortunately he lost the sweet spot he had with the car this morning and missed out on making Q3. Still, we know we have a strong car for tomorrow,” said Mallya, while hoping for the home fans' support.
The lone Indian driver in the race, Narain Karthikeyan of Hispania Racing, managed 22nd position behind team mate Daniel Ricciardo after the two clocked timings of 1:30.238 and 1:30.216.
Both received five penalty points after breach of regulations. Narain was penalised for impeding Michael Schumacher of Mercedes.
The Indian, however, was satisfied since he had not lost any speed despite not being very regular in F1.
“We got the potential out of the car and beat both Virgins and I am proud of it. I was up on my teammate, but made a small mistake. Nevertheless, I am very happy with the way I drove. I think this was the maximum that we could get.”
Narain said it was yet to sink in that he was racing an F1 car in India.
“It is a fantastic sensation racing in front of my home crowd. Tomorrow I am aiming to finish in the best position possible,” he said.