India debuts at Formula 1 today
It is hard to say what will happen on Sunday but after Saturday's qualifying session, Force India looked a bit uncomfortable in their seat. Their drivers, Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil, stumbled on the first step and will begin their race from almost the back of the grid.
On Friday, the team had laid emphasis on a mid-rung finish as, they said, overtaking would be tough on this circuit. However, the first qualification round proved a bit of a disappointment.
Fisichella and Sutil, weren’t able to proceed to the second round of qualification, losing it just by a second. They originally qualified 17th and 19th but gained a position each after Toyota’s Timo Glock was penalised 10 places and pushed down to 19th.
Lewis Hamilton claimed pole but Fernando Alonso and defending champion Kimi Raikkonen failed to make it to the final round of qualifying.
Grid positions matter but with driver aids gone, there will be scope to bounce back.
For Fisichella and Sutil, this might work out even better, but whether finishing at the back is part of strategy will only be known on Sunday.
“Finishing just one place behind the top-16 and missing the second qualifying is a bit disappointing,” said Fisichella.
The morning was better as the Italian clocked the ninth quickest time in practice.
“I know we are there and improving but such things happen. In the latter part of my quickest lap, there was a yellow flag and there was also a lot of graining on the tyres because of which I lost at least three-tenths (of a second),” he said.
On the other hand, Sutil spun on his final lap of the first qualifying, which stalled his hopes. “The general grip was lower (in the afternoon),” he said.
The qualifying process, a three-round format, has been changed, primarily to make sure that the fastest drivers stay ahead throughout the qualification and don’t slow down.