After another disappointing qualifying session in Korea, Force India find themselves at the base of an uphill battle to try and beat Mclaren in the championship. Strong performances early on in the season have taken the team only so far, and for a team renowned for its end-of-season surges in competitiveness, 2013 has proven to be quite a challenging test for both team and drivers.
Hopes for the race tomorrow are sounding positive with team principal Bob Fernely remaining hopeful that the team, “can demonstrate that pace tomorrow to try and get both cars in contention for points”. The reality of the situation, however, is very different. Both Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil have been unspectacular in practice and their qualifying results reflect this. Progress could be minimal tomorrow, especially considering Mclarens, Saubers and Mark Webber lie immediately in front of them.
Di Resta took out some of his frustrations at his team’s increasingly unpromising season on Jules Bianchi today, after he claimed the Frenchman held him up in Q1. Onboard footage from di Resta’s car reveals that not only was Bianchi sufficiently ahead of him, there was no noticeable change in di Resta’s approach to the corners in which he said he was held up. Nevertheless, Force India complained to the stewards and Bianchi was duly given a three-place grid penalty. This seems incredibly harsh given that Bianchi already qualified second to last and that di Resta made in through to Q2 despite his “hold-up”.
But this situation does shed light on how Force India’s season has unraveled. Once knocking on the door of the podium, Force India has only scored twice in the last five races. During that time, Mclaren surged ahead of them to the tune of almost 20 points. This isn’t an insurmountable sum, but considering how Mclaren have been able to score consistently despite issues, doing so looks to be highly improbable.
The only thing Force India can hope for is attrition. When rain dominated the 2010 Korean Grand Prix, Force India was there to pick up some of the scraps. If the showers expected for early tomorrow persist for a majority of the day, maybe Force India can regain some of their lost championship traction. Otherwise, it could be another weekend to forget.