May 12th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Force India are having possibly their strongest season yet in Formula One, with a car that looks quick enough for points at every race and two drivers who are in strong form. In today's Spanish Grand Prix, Paul Di Resta finished in a solid seventh place, following up on his fourth place at the last race in Bahrain.
Adrian Sutil was the victim of the other side of Force India's fortunes. Sutil was running ninth after making up a few places from 13th on grid before he made his first pitstop. A cross-threaded wheel-nut and the resulting delay in the pits pushed him right to the back of the field and completely destroyed his chances of scoring points. Sutil was able to recover to 13th place, just over five seconds away from the final points position. His recovery and Di Resta's performance were indicative of the pace in this year's Force India. Sutil just needs to have a trouble-free weekend to show what he can do in a competitive car.
Di Resta's race went more according to plan and he was able to use the pace of the car to make up three places from 10th on the grid to seventh by the finish, very nearly passing Nico Rosberg for sixth in the closing stages. Force India have previously struggled on tracks like Catalunya that require a strong aero package, and thrived on power circuits like Spa and Monza, but today's result demonstrates that the team has taken major steps forward in terms of producing balanced downforce. The car should be strong at most of the remaining tracks this season.
Di Resta was thrilled with his result, saying: "We said before the race that seventh would be a good result and towards the end I was even fighting for sixth. So we can take a lot of positives from the weekend because this is a track that has traditionally not suited our car. It was a great effort by the team to get through to Q3 yesterday and come away with a seventh place today. The result shows the consistency that we have had since the start of the year and that we can perform each weekend. There’s more to come too, because there is more we can do to optimise the car with the new parts we introduced here, but this is definitely a big result for us."
Sutil rued his poor fortune, but took positives away from the weekend nonetheless: "It’s extremely disappointing to come away empty handed from this race because we were so quick today. My start was very good and I went around the outside of the first corner, which worked well because I was up in eighth by the end of the first lap. It was all going to plan until the first pit stop when there was an issue and I lost so much time. The team told me to switch the engine off while they sorted the problem, but it cost me the chance of points. For the rest of the race it was a case of pushing as much as possible because you never know what can happen. It’s frustrating, but you have to accept these things. Hopefully it will not happen again."