Force India boss Vijay Mallya is confident his team can turn things around on race day, despite struggling in qualifying for Sunday's Indian Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit.
Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta were both knocked out on Saturday in Q2, a bitter pill, especially as it is the outfit's home race. However, while neither driver was able to find the 'sweet spot', and will consequently line up 12th and 16th on the grid, Mallya still believes they can break into the top-ten and score valuable points.
“We saw another very close session today, but ultimately we didn't have the performance level to continue our run of top ten qualifying performances. We've been struggling to find the sweet spot on set-up and it seems that the tyres have played a much more significant role here. Their operating window on this track seems very narrow and we probably haven't got the most from them,” Mallya explained.
“Even so, it's only Saturday and tomorrow is what counts. There is a long race ahead and we can still turn things around and demonstrate our true potential.
“It's our home Grand Prix and we want to deliver strong races with both cars to hopefully see both Sahara Force Indias inside the points come Sunday afternoon.”
Hulkenberg meanwhile, who will head the charge for the outfit in P12, shares the belief that points will be possible.
“We went into the session targeting and expecting to make Q3, so it's a bit disappointing to miss out,” the German remarked. “After the first part of qualifying it was clear that it was going to be a big task, but obviously you always try and believe it is possible. My lap in Q2 was actually pretty good with no mistakes and that was just the maximum for us today. I guess that some other cars have picked up pace today and that's why we are behind them.
“I still have confidence for the race though because we have seen how close the times are today and we were not too far away from the top ten.
“The other good news is that we can pick our starting tyres for the race, so our focus tonight is to think hard about the strategy.”
Di Resta concurs that strategy will be key: “It's a big weekend for us but the performance we showed today is not really where we want to be. It has been a tricky couple of days and we've not been able to maximise the car we've got. The car balance was not ideal and I didn't have the best lap during my final run in Q2 – there were a few small mistakes and I didn't have the consistency or the confidence to really push.
“So there is a lot of work to do ahead of the race tomorrow and we need to look at things overnight to see where we can improve. It's an important day for us and we need to try and recover some ground if we want to come home with points,” he added.