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Di Resta struggles to understand latest qualie crisis
27 July 2013
Force India's Achilles Heel in 2013 so far has been qualifying, with Paul di Resta forced on numerous occasions to fight his way back from a poor starting grid position to get himself into the points by the end of the race.
In that sense, Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix will just be business as normal: di Resta will have to start all the way back from 18th position on the grid, although at least isn't as bad as Silverstone where he was sent to the back of the grid after a weight irregularity in the car - and still finished in the points.
But in another sense the qualifying in Hungary is a headache of a different magnitude for the team - because they're struggling to understand just why the handling of di Resta's VJM06 went away so badly on what should have been its best flying laps of Q1.
"I am a bit confused as to why we struggled so much on the soft tyre," confessed di Resta. "Throughout all the sessions we've looked more competitive on the softs, but in Q1 they just didn't switch on."
"Finding the sweet spot with both cars has proved difficult this weekend and I think we saw the result of that in today's qualifying performance," offered Otmar Szafnauer, Force India's Chief Operating Officer. "The changes made to Paul's car ahead of qualifying certainly helped our performance on the medium tyres, but he struggled for speed on the softs. That's something we will try to understand tonight because we expected him to be much higher up the grid.
"I think the main puzzle we need to solve is what happened to our performance today so that we can bounce back tomorrow," agreed di Resta.
"We've given ourselves a lot of work to do tomorrow, but we will go away and come back refreshed and ready to fight," insisted the Scot. "We need to move forward so we will think hard tonight about the strategy, but at least we have plenty of new tyres available," he added with a rueful smile.
Di Resta's team mate Adrian Sutil also struggled to get through Q1, but once he did he was rewarded with 11th place on the grid in Budapest.
"The first part of qualifying was quite tricky and it was difficult to deliver the pace we expected," he said. "I had a good feeling with the car, but we were not especially quick and I was only P15 by the end of Q1.
"I did not really know where we were losing out, but the team made some adjustments and that improved things for Q2," he added, words that should give hope to di Resta that a solution to his own problems are close to hand. "My lap times were much better and for a while it looked like I was going to make the top ten, but then I got pushed down to P11 at the last moment.
"I'm happy with my lap and that was the limit for me today," Sutil added. "P11 is a good place to start because it leaves us with more of a choice about the tyre strategy. The goal tomorrow is to push forward and try to score some points."
"[11th] is about where we expected our performance level to be and hopefully [Adrian] can score points tomorrow," picked up Szafnauer. "It's a tough track for overtaking, but we will do all we can to give Paul a strategy to bring him into the points."
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