Paul di Resta has questioned Force India's choice of strategy for the Chinese Grand Prix after failing to score for the first time in his fledgling F1 career.
The Scot started the 56-lap race from his highest qualifying position, in eighth, and gained a spot at the start, but began to fall back down the field as the strategy unfolded. With several expected frontrunners - such as Michael Schumacher, Nick Heidfeld and Mark Webber - having qualified behind him and only one retirement among the 24-car field, di Resta's day rested heavily on being able to get the best from his Pirelli tyres while maintaining track position. Unfortunately, he was unable to claw his way back into the top ten and, even before clashing with Heidfeld on the final lap, looked set to miss out on prolonging his scoring run.
"It was always going to be quite a tough race, starting from where we were," the reigning DTM champion conceded, "We came very close to scoring points, but just missed out at the end when the tyres had gone.
"Having gone into the race without heavy fuel runs may have compromised us a bit. We didn't quite get the aero balance right at the start, but the second and third stints, I think, were pretty good, just a bit longer than expected because we had to stop early to try and cover Michael [Schumacher]. Maybe a three-stop strategy would have suited us better, but only time will tell in the simulations."
"Two stops was just possible," engineering director Dominic Harlow countered, "After a switch to prime for both drivers, we held on to our track position for as long as we could, with Paul only losing out in the final laps. Overall, we've shown better pace in qualifying, and that we can still race very strongly. We'll look at what we've learned today and aim to continue improving when we next race back in Europe."
The second car of Adrian Sutil also gained places at the start, moving up from eleventh to eighth, but came off worst in an incident with Sauber's Sergio Perez, which forced an unscheduled nose change in the latter stages of the race.
"I was unlucky with the incident with Perez, which cost me the race," the German sighed, "But, in the end, we had problems as well with the tyres, which didn't last as long as we thought. I was just struggling the whole time, and we have to understand why we were not so competitive in the race this time. In qualifying, we were much better, so we will go away, analyse everything and I think it is good that we have the break now before the next race in Europe.
"The team back at the factory did a good job to get us to where we are after these first three races; we just need to work out what happened in particular today to bring both qualifying and race performances together."