Adrian Sutil was on 'top form' today in qualifying for Sunday's inaugural Indian Grand Prix.
The German, who had been ninth in final practice this morning, ran strongly in his VJM04 throughout qualifying, easily progressing to Q2 and then getting through to the top-ten shootout by almost two tenths of a second, after he posted a 1 minute 26.140 second effort late on.
He will now line-up in eighth place on the grid for the Sahara Force India
F1's team home race at the all-new Buddh International Circuit
and he reckons they have taken the 'first step' to 'doing well'.
“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,” he confirmed.
“P8 is one of my best qualifying results of the season and 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 the strategy we will run. I feel very comfortable with the car and I think we will be more competitive than we were in Korea.”
Team-mate Paul di Resta meanwhile qualified 13th - his best lap in Q2 a 1m 26.503s. Although the Englishman gains a position as Vitaly Petrov has a five-place penalty, the 25-year-old was not happy to be almost 0.363 seconds off the sister car.
“Starting P12 is a bit disappointing really, because we looked quite strong this morning. But I struggled with a bit of understeer in the high-speed corners and we couldn't fix it during the session,” he explained. “I think the conditions cooled a little bit, which maybe didn't help us because I couldn't get the balance quite where I wanted it.
“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 focussed and try to do the best job possible in the team's home race.”
“Another excellent day of track action at Buddh International Circuit
and I'm delighted to see a Sahara Force India
starting the very first Indian Grand Prix
from the fourth row of the grid,” summarised team principal and managing director, Dr Vijay Mallya. “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.
“Adrian clearly loves this circuit and was on top form this afternoon. 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 and I'm hopeful both drivers can be in the hunt for points. It's our home race and I hope all the fans here will really get behind Sahara Force India
in what will be a spectacular and historic moment for India.”