Force India underlined its growing stature again with Adrian Sutil holding his own in a dramatic wet qualifying session to bag the third place on the starting grid for the Brazilian Grand Prix here.

His teammate Vitantonio Liuzzi had graduated through to the second qualifying session (Q2) but aquaplaned and speared off into the barriers into turn one.

The Italian, who had actually qualified 15th, was taken to the medical center for precautionary checks but was uninjured in the accident. His VJM02 sustained significant damage in the impact and will require a new gearbox, effectively dropping him five places on to 20th in the starting grid.

The dramatic Q3 ended with Brawn’s Rubens Barrichello’s 1m 19.576s beating Mark Webber’s 1m 19.668s and Sutil’s 1m 19.912s.

Force India chairman Vijay Mallya said Sutil had once again proved the team’s enhanced status, while Liuzzi was unfortunate to catch the puddle.

“Liuzzi was unlucky to have aquaplane on the main straight but Sutil’s third place proves we are a front-running team now,” Mallya said.

The dramatic qualifying session featured several stoppages and delays because of rain but Sutil proved his dexterity and would start the race from the second row.

“Being in the top three is always a great feeling, particularly after such a difficult session,” Sutil said.

On Friday it didn’t look so good in the dry so I was really hoping for rain and in the end we got too much. We had to wait so long during the session and keep focused.

“We left it a bit (in Q3) until we went out and I crossed the line with just seconds to spare to start my fastest lap, which was good enough for third. I’m really happy, it’s feels good to be back here at the front. I’m hoping for a good race and I’m just going to give it my best,” an elated German said.

Liuzzi, however, was disappointed at not making to the top 10 shootout.

“I am really frustrated that the qualifying ended in the way it did as I was pretty convinced I could have got into Q3 and done well. As Adrian has shown we were very much on it,” he said.

“I am sorry for the team as we could have achieved more but I was a passenger at that stage and couldn’t do anything when the car caught that puddle. All the same I think we are in good shape for the race and if the conditions stay like this, we have a well balanced car so I am optimistic for the race,” Liuzzi said.

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