The Sahara Force India
carried its strong practice form into qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix, with Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil
expecting to start from row three.
di Resta, the faster of the two team-mates this weekend, set the seventh fastest time in Q3, with Sutil right behind him in eighth, but the pair are expected to start from fifth and sixth respectively after Lewis Hamilton
and Mark Webber
"We knew we were in good shape to challenge for Q3, and we looked strong throughout all the sessions,” di Resta, who suffered radio problems in Q1, commented, “As the tracked gripped up, we didn't quite have the speed we expected, but I'm still pretty happy with what we've achieved, especially as I will move up to fifth with the grid penalties.
“We're in a great position for tomorrow, the car is strong and our long run performance yesterday gives us every reason to be hopeful of challenging for some good points."
Sutil, meanwhile, reported a more difficult afternoon, but was still delighted to put his car into the top ten once again.
"The car was quite tricky to drive and the grip level of the track made it difficult to complete the perfect lap,” the German explained, “My final lap in Q3 could have been better, but I'm pretty happy with the outcome, especially if I move up to sixth. The track suits us, we like the warm weather and things look promising for tomorrow. It's a good starting position to have both cars on the third row and we will be looking to move forward in the race."
Deputy team principal Robert Fernley, who took the flak for allowing his team to miss one of last year's Friday practice sessions in the name of personnel safety, was equally pleased with the showing from both cars.
"An excellent team effort today brings us our best qualifying performance of the year,” he confirmed, “We knew we had the pace to get both cars into Q3 and, in the end, there was very little to choose between Paul and Adrian, with just a hundredth of a second separating them.
“We expect to move up a couple of positions with both cars when the grid penalties are handed out, which puts us in a very strong position for the race. We have no concern with the tyres, so the key tomorrow is to hold track position and find some clean air with the strategy so that we can make the most of our strong race pace."