A busy Friday for Sahara Force India at the Shanghai International Circuit has given the Silverstone-based team confidence that it can make it through to the pole position shoot-out.
The squad, whose long-run pace appeared to be amongst the more promising during the two 90-minute sessions, saw both Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta finish inside the top ten during practice, after working through a series of set-up programmes
"It was an incredibly busy day of practice and both car crews worked well to get through such a full job list,” chief race engineer Jakob Andreasen commented, “We approached the sessions in a methodical manner and made clear decisions as soon as the data indicated the best direction to take. So much of the focus on a Friday is on tyre performance, but we also managed to complete an ambitious aero programme, which has given us a good understanding of where we need to focus our efforts going forward.
“Overall, I'm pleased with the day's results and I'm confident that our competitiveness is similar to the performance level we showed during the first couple of races. The next target is to get both our cars into Q3 tomorrow afternoon."
Despite a wheel nut problem which sidelined both drivers in the Malaysian Grand Prix, Force India remains fifth overall in the constructors' standings, thanks to points finishes for both Sutil and di Resta in Melbourne, and the German is optimistic of another strong showing this weekend.
"I'm feeling happy with how things went today,” Sutil said after two eighth-place finishes in practice, “There were no major issues and we managed to test a lot of different things on the car, especially on the aero side. The important thing now is to understand which are the right parts and the best settings to use for the rest of the weekend.
“In terms of the tyres there is a big different between the compounds, with the medium performing better than the soft. I think we look quite competitive, but it's too early to say exactly where we stand."
Tyres were the key element for di Resta, who trailed his team-mate closely in both sessions, and the Scot admitted that he still had work to do to be entirely happy with his set-up.
"I think the story of the day was mainly about tyres and trying to understand how to get the most out of them,” he explained, “We've done as much as we could, but I think everybody found quite a big difference between the two compounds.
“This is a track with characteristics that are always quite demanding on the tyres, but we worked through the programme, tried a lot of different settings with the car and now need to study the data carefully to make the right decisions for the rest of the weekend."