April 14th, 2013 (F1plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Force India showed good pace throughout the Chinese Grand Prix weekend, and were on target for a double points finish when Adrian Sutil was taken out of the race by an error from Sauber rookie Esteban Gutierrez. Paul Di Resta brought his Force India home eighth for four points, which will be some consolation to the team on a weekend they had hoped for more.
The Force India drivers found themselves together in quite a tight pack on the first lap, and coming out of the hairpin there was contact between Sutil and Di Resta. Fortunately there did not appear to be any damage, but the incident forced Di Resta onto the grass and cost him several places. It's not clear where he could have finished without that early setback, but it's clear from the result that there is inherent pace in the car, particularly as Di Resta started 11th on the grid and therefore made up places in the race.
Adrian Sutil has continued to look impressive in his comeback season, but has yet to really deliver results. Seventh place in Australia was satisfying but could have been better given that he led the race for a while. A wheel problem in Malaysia prevented either Force India driver from scoring likely points. Today in China, Sutil did absolutely nothing wrong, and was simply the innocent victim of Gutierrez's error. Sutil will now want to get his season back on track with a good result in Bahrain next week.
This is what the drivers had to say after the Chinese Grand Prix:
Paul Di Resta: “A good result in the end and a strong recovery after a difficult start to the race. I was battling with Nico [Hulkenberg] on the opening lap, but unfortunately there was some contact with Adrian [Sutil] down at the hairpin, which put me on the grass and set us back three or four places. After that I was stuck in the pack, my tyres were graining, and I couldn’t really make much progress. It wasn’t until the third stint that I was in some clean air and the pace of the car was very strong. I was pushing all the way and I knew it would be very close after the final stop with Grosjean and Hulkenberg. But the pit crew did a top job; they kept their nerve and we managed to stay ahead of both of them. If everything had gone to plan I’m sure we could have done an even better job, but it’s good to pick up more points and to see our race pace right up there once again.”
Adrian Sutil: “A very disappointing day for me. Things were going well in the opening laps and then under braking for the final hairpin I got hit from behind as I turned into the corner. I guess Gutierrez missed his braking point and had nowhere to go but into the back of my car. My rear wing was broken and there was no option but to stop. It’s always a shame not to finish a race and I had a good chance of scoring more points today. I was on the soft tyre and the strategy looked to be shaping up well.”