April 19th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Force India had a positive Friday in Bahrain, with both cars featuring in the top ten in each of the two Free Practice Sessions. Paul Di Resta and Adrian Sutil each completed 50 laps, close to a race distance, and Di Resta showed particularly strong pace to make the top five in FP1 and FP2.
Force India have looked quick from the first race of 2013 in Australia, but have had some frustrating problems that have prevented them from taking home the points they are probably capable of scoring. At last week's Chinese Grand Prix, Sutil was taken out by a rookie error from Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez, and in Malaysia both cars retired due to a wheel problem that made pit stops all but impossible. What they really need now is a clean weekend and another double points finish to go with the strong result from Melbourne.
Force India's pace, both in qualifying and race conditions, suggests that they are the fifth quickest team on the grid at the moment, behind Red Bull, Ferrari, Lotus and Mercedes, but they are not too far off the front-running pace. A solid qualifying session with both cars in Q3 tomorrow would set the team up for a strong result on Sunday.
The team reacted as follows after Friday practice:
Paul Di Resta: “As Fridays go it’s been positive and we’ve achieved as much as we could realistically have hoped for. The car is working well and responding as we expected, and we’ve already got a reasonable idea of where we stand. There is still some optimising to do, as always, but if we can take another step forward tonight we should be in a strong position going into qualifying.”
Adrian Sutil: “Lots of laps and lots of things to evaluate today, but I’m still not totally comfortable with the car – either for short or long runs. It all feels very low grip at the moment so the set-up is not quite right for me yet. As for the tyres, there are no real concerns. My long runs looked competitive and both the medium and hard compounds seem to be working well for us in the high temperatures – as they did in Malaysia.”
Jakob Andreasen, Chief Race Engineer: “A very straightforward couple of sessions and overall we are feeling happy with how things have gone. The aero programme this morning helped to address some of the unanswered questions from China and allowed us to learn more about some of the new parts we have tried on the car recently. We also tested all our cooling solutions and don’t anticipate any issues during the race. As usual, we switched to tyre evaluation this afternoon and both cars managed to complete long runs on both tyre compounds. It was a slick session and sets us up nicely for tomorrow. With a few more tweaks overnight we should be able to keep up the momentum and get both cars in Q3 tomorrow afternoon.”