The Force India F1 team made it through to Q2 for the very first time in its short history on Saturday, when Giancarlo Fisichella survived the first knock-out phase and then put his VJM01 in twelfth place on the grid for this Sunday's Italian GP.

It is easily the best qualifying performance of the season for the former Spyker/Midland/Jordan outfit, which has gone through a number of different incarnations in recent years.

Indeed the last time the Silverstone-based outfit survived Q1 was at the 2006 Japanese Grand Prix.

Fisichella excelled in the wet and windy qualifying session in front of his home fans, with his final lap being the 13th quickest of Q1.

The Italian pushed hard in the opening minutes of the second segment to record the 12th fastest of the remaining 15 cars - just five hundredths from the crucial tenth position and Q3 - but as conditions worsened, it was clear that he would not better this time.

Giancarlo will now start his home race surrounded by race winners, Robert Kubica and David Coulthard, reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen and current world championship leader Lewis Hamilton.

"Of course I'm really pleased to be able to give the team its first entry into Q2 this year and particularly here in Monza," said Fisi. "Conditions in the first session were bad at the start and it was difficult to find some grip but they improved at the end and that was when I was able to find some space and push.

"We went out as soon as we could in the second session as the rain was getting heavier and we really did the optimum - we weren't too far from Q3 with the quickest lap. Unfortunately then the rain just got worse and it was going to be impossible to improve.

"I'm really looking forward to the race, and with the predicted rain I think it will be very exciting. I'm going to try hard here - I scored my first win in similar conditions in Brazil with this team [back when it was called Jordan Grand Prix], and although that's going to be difficult here, we can at least try for points."

Adrian Sutil meanwhile started Q1 well in the sister car. However, he struggled with his second set of tyres and consequently will line-up on the back row in 20th position next to Jenson Button's Honda.

Force India F1 team boss Dr. Vijay Mallya was none-the-less extremely pleased with the result: "I am absolutely delighted with this qualifying result here in Monza. We've been striving for this all year and finally, in some of the worst conditions this season, we have got it," he continued.

"I have to say thank you to Giancarlo for driving a fantastic lap in the wet and cross my fingers that he can convert this into a strong result tomorrow. Adrian was unlucky today. As we have seen many times over this season though, he is a very capable wet weather driver and I am in no doubt that he will show this in race conditions tomorrow."

"An exciting qualifying session and great to get one car into Q2," added Force India's chief technical officer, Mike Gascoyne. "On his first run in Q1 Adrian looked very comfortable but on his second set of tyres he really struggled for grip, which was a shame as I really think he could have got through as well.

"Giancarlo did well to get a clear lap in Q1 and was unlucky just to miss out by a couple of hundredths from Q3. Overall we have been strong with both cars in every session so far this weekend and we have to look to have to score some points tomorrow."


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