With a Saturday that began with a crash in final practice at the exit to the Spoon Curve which saw the Force India VJM06 spin and hit the barriers with sufficient force to wreck the car's gearbox, Adrian Sutil faces an uphill battle in the Japanese Grand Prix from a back row start.

The enforced gearbox change before qualifying started earned Sutil a five place grid penalty, and when the German failed to make it through to Q2 it meant that he'd be dropped to last place on the grid at Suzuka on Sunday.

"It's not been an easy day," said the master of understatement with a thin smile. "I made a mistake this morning, damaged the car and we had to change the gearbox. I have to say a big 'thank you' to the team for getting the car ready in time for qualifying because they had a lot of work to do during the lunch break.

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"In Q1 the car was quite difficult to drive, I didn't feel comfortable and was missing the grip to be competitive," he confessed.

"All I can do now is look forward to the race and hope we have a better day. With the grid penalty I will be starting near the back so I need to try and deliver consistent race pace and hopefully move towards the points."

"Suzuka has been quite a challenge for us this year," admitted team deputy principal Bob Fernley. "An accident for Adrian halfway through FP3 was unfortunate and although the mechanics did a fantastic job of repairing his car, he was on the back foot going into qualifying."

It's the first time since Italy that Sutil has been out-qualified by his team mate Paul di Resta, and the Scot was relieved to finally be over his recent slump in form and looking forward to a more satisfying race day on Sunday after ending up in 12th place on the grid for the start of the Grand Prix.

"Given where we started yesterday, I think we should be pretty happy with P12," said di Resta. "Slowly but surely we've made the car more drivable and in qualifying it felt quite good. The overnight efforts of everyone at the track and back at the factory have helped dial the car into the circuit.

"Compared with yesterday the car feels much more stable and predictable, and that's allowed us to get within a tenth of making Q3," he added. "I'm feeling upbeat about the race because the long runs have looked consistent and we are well placed to fight for points with a free choice on tyre strategy."

"Paul was in better shape and showed very strong pace in Q1 and Q2," agreed Fernley. "In the end he was unlucky to miss out on a place in Q3, but he's done enough to be firmly in the battle for points tomorrow.

"We're feeling quite optimistic about our race pace and tyre life, and if we get the strategy right we can take the fight to the cars ahead of us," he added.