Paul di Resta put in a fantastic performance today in qualifying for the 2012 F1 Italian Grand Prix.
The Brit had been third quickest in final practice this morning and he showed that was no one-off with a strong run throughout qualifying, setting the fifth best time in Q1, the third best time in Q2 and the fourth best time in Q3. Sadly, however, while it was his best ever performance in qualifying, he won't get to start from the second-row alongside Felipe Massa, as a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change will drop him back to ninth.
Speaking after the session though, the Sahara Force India driver wasn't too disappointed and he is now focusing on making sure he scores as many points as possible in tomorrow's race.
“The car has been working well all weekend so I knew we were in good shape going into qualifying. We were in the top five of free practice and the car has got better and better with each run as the track evolved,” said di Resta.
“I'm very happy with my Q3 lap, which was my quickest lap so far – so we maximised it when it mattered. I think the entire team has done an excellent job to get us in this position – we've trusted our instincts and just worked away at dialling the car into the track.
“I knew I was going to have a grid penalty for the gearbox change, which is frustrating, but at least I will start inside the top ten.
“The challenge now is to make sure we have the race pace and use the strategy to come away with points.”
Team-mate Nico Hulkenberg meanwhile had a frustrating afternoon, with a fuel pressure issue putting him out right at the start of Q1 and stopping him from setting a time. He is now expected to line-up 24th and last.
“I was about to start my first timed lap in Q1 when I suddenly lost drive,” he explained. “I pulled over at the first chicane and the team told me to switch off the car. It's a shame this happened on a day when the car looks so competitive, but that's racing. Starting so far back tomorrow will be tough, but I will try and push through so that we can hopefully come away with something from the race.”
“We had a very competitive car today and Paul delivered an excellent performance to set the fourth fastest time in Q3 – it was his quickest lap of the weekend and his best ever qualifying performance,” summarised team boss, Dr Vijay Mallya. "It's just unfortunate that he will take a five-place penalty for the gearbox change. Even so, he will be in the mix tomorrow and will be strong in the race.
“The big disappointment of the session was the technical fault on Nico's car, which we believe to be related to fuel pressure. Without this issue I'm confident we would have had both cars well inside the top ten.
“The task now is to come away from here with points to strengthen our position in the championship.”