The Force India F1 Team will start tomorrow's inaugural Korean Grand Prix with Adrian Sutil in P14 and Tonio Liuzzi in P17. Sutil was just one tenth away from a top 12 starting slot and less than three tenths from Q3 during a fascinating first-ever qualifying session at the Yeongam circuit.
Tonio was unfortunate to pick up heavy tyre graining on his last lap and, despite being on for a sure Q2 slot in the first two sectors, the effect was too high in the final sector.
Adrian Sutil (car 14): "Although P14 isn't exactly what we would have hoped for, we were still quite close to the top 12 and with a bit of luck could have been even closer to Q3. In Q2 I had some traffic on my first lap and then my second was good, but it was tough out there with the tyres. That said, it's a great track they have built here. I really enjoyed driving on it - there's a lot of challenges and kinks and it was really so grippy at the end of the session that it was a real pleasure to drive each lap. From where we are on the grid it's going to be a great race."
Tonio Liuzzi (car 15): "We suffered with a lot of graining on the soft tyres today. We missed out on the last run in the morning because of a puncture and didn't try the option tyres, but we didn't expect them to grain as badly as they did. The first two laps of the final run were good and the first two sectors of the third lap were looking really good - I was on for a 1:38.2 at that point - but then the tyres grained so badly I lost a lot of time through the last two corners as the car started to understeer a lot. Based on this wear rate it's going to be an interesting race for sure."
Dr Vijay Mallya, chairman and team principal: "The Korean Grand Prix organisers have done a fantastic job with the circuit and the facilities here. The track seems to be a real modern classic that has got great feedback from the drivers and I think this bodes extremely well for a thrilling race tomorrow. It hasn't been the kindest to us here today: we were competitive throughout the morning and weren't so far from the top 12 in the afternoon, but we've been suffering a lot with the tyre graining and that's what caught us out in qualifying. That said we're still in a good position for the race tomorrow and I'm very hopeful of us doing well. I am sure the race will throw up a lot of unusual opportunities and we've got to be well poised to take any that come our way."
Adrian Sutil (car 14, VJM03/03):
FP3: 10th 1:38.632 (18 laps)
Q1: 15th 1:38.572 (10 laps)
Q2: 14th 1:37.783 (8 laps)
Tonio Liuzzi (car 15, VJM03/04):
FP3: 18th 1:41.591 (15 laps)
Q1: 18th 1:38.955 (10 laps)