By Sam Moffat
Giancarlo Fisichella’s 200th Grand Prix got off to a disappointing start after the Italian wound up on the back row of the grid alongside his Force India team-mate Adrian Sutil.
The Italian veteran had already been hit with a five-place grid penalty as a result of a gearbox change in the morning warm-up, and when it came to the crunch in qualifying the Force India driver was hampered by traffic on his flying laps.
“‘It was a disappointing qualifying session and, in fact, whole day,” reflected the experienced 35-year-old. “My first run was not great, but the second was better but then I lost the chance to do a quick lap as I got caught behind Barrichello just after the swimming pool as he was slowing down. Very very frustrating.”
Fisichella has had good form in the last few years at the tight and demanding circuit. Last year he leapfrogged the BMW Sauber drivers on a lighter fuel load to finish fourth and in 2006 he hustled his Renaut into sixth place having started ninth.
The three times race winner has also been on relatively good form of late, getting a top ten finish at Barcelona.
Adrian Sutil, who lapped an impressive eighth quickest in the Saturday warm up, eventually ended up in nineteenth on the grid. It was bitter sweet day for the German youngster as he was caught in traffic. But he managed to overcome problems with his tyres and will be hopeful of a decent result in the race.
“It is really only two tenths or so, but from that point on it’s difficult to get in the rhythm,” Sutil commented. “We had planned to do two laps but you never know whether there will be traffic so we left some margin with the fuel and I could stay out for a few more laps to get some better ones in.”
Mike Gascoyne, Force India’s chief technical officer, was pleased with Sutil’s qualifying effort: “Adrian has done a steady job today, improving in each session, but overall I think we had a car that shouldn’t be on the back row.”
Fisichella will be looking to make his 200th race one to remember tomorrow, and from the back of the grid he will have to watch going into the tight turn one, where anything can happen.