The Force India duo of Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta acknowledge that their hopes of points in Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix rest on good tyre strategy choices, a belief echoed by their team principal.
Sutil and di Resta qualified ninth and tenth respectively at the Yas Marina circuit, continuing the team's good run of form as the F1 2011 season nears it's conclusion. Whilst anything can happen in the race, qualifying was a boost towards the team's stated aim of ending the year sixth in the constructors' championship.
Indeed, Sutil believes that the team is currently higher in the pecking order than that.
“I'm happy with ninth place today and it was a good session for me," he commented, "In Q3, we waited a bit longer than planned because we wanted to wait and see what Mercedes did. The lap was a little bit compromised because I didn't get the tyres fully up to temperature, so maybe I could have been a bit higher up. Still, I don't think we can complain too much because P9 is a fair reflection of our pace at the moment.”
Unlike his team-mate, di Resta elected not to set a time in the final qualifying session.
“Getting two cars in the top ten was the objective today and that's what we achieved," he explained, "Our approach to Q3 was to give us the optimum strategy for tomorrow.
"For the race, we are definitely hoping for points because our focus is to maintain our sixth place in the championship.”
This was a view echoed by team principal Vijay Mallya after qualifying.
“With just two races to go we are not underestimating how important it is to score points here to strengthen our grasp on sixth place in the constructors' championship," he confirmed, "I believe we have the speed to do so but ,as I've said before, you never know until it's in the bag.”
Mallya also acknowledged that whilst in good shape, there is a lot of work for the team to do to optimise their potential.
“It will be an interesting race because we have seen that the tyre degradation here is not that severe, which means we need to think long and hard about how we will use the strategy,” he concluded.
by Philip Barclay