Paul di Resta said his qualifying performance in India was the worst of his F1 career to date
Force India driver struggling for confidence in his car as he sets 16th fastest time
By Mike Wise in New Delhi. Last Updated: 28/10/12 7:52am
Paul di Resta said he had the worst qualifying session of his F1 career on Saturday after wrestling his Force India car to 16th place on the grid.
The Indian Grand Prix might be the team's 'home' race yet the backing they have at and around the Buddh International Circuit was hardly reflected in their performance on track.
Billboards featuring a grinning di Resta and team-mate Nico Hulkenberg, together with West Indies cricket star Chris Gayle, line the route to the circuit and the team were the first to send their drivers out at the start of the session.
Hulkenberg will line up 12th but di Resta was almost three-quarters of a second slower after suffering a balance problem he admitted the team were struggling to understand.
"I just can't get any consistency in the car, or confidence in it. Having taken a bit more detail out of qualifying, there are signs of issues we're seeing which may be influencing it," he said.
"I think generally, as a team performance, we're not that great here, we're struggling a bit. But my car compared with Nico's, there's nowhere that I can even get close to where he is. It's miles away.
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"It's the hardest qualifying session I've had in Formula 1, to contend with. We need to get on top of things really, for a bit of damage limitation.
"It's not over, but we need to understand what the actual issue is. We'll try and rectify it."
Di Resta's worst qualifying session in terms of a result came in last year's Belgian Grand Prix, in which he lined up 17th.
"It won't be a repeat of this in Abu Dhabi, that's one thing. The focus is on tomorrow, to try and do something and see what we can do," he continued.
"Although we're in parc ferme, there's obviously things that we need to make sure are right with the car.
"I think there'll be a massive investigation on it, because you'll never see that much of a distance between me and Nico. It's always tenths - even if you're lucky."
Di Resta was already on the backfoot having lost time with a puncture in Friday's second practice session that limited his running on the soft tyre.
Such is the gap to Hulkenberg that he even refused to rule out the possibility that something might have broken on the car.
If that proved the case, then the team would be allowed to fix it. Regardless, di Resta admitted he has his work cut out to score points in the race.
"Yesterday, we put it down to an issue with the puncture. It's clear today it's more serious than that," he added.
"We're not going to give up on it. It's going to be an interesting race of strategy, we're looking quite good on tyres. Nico's run on the soft tyre looked quite competitive."