Force India delighted to return to points at home race

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Force India drivers Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil are delighted to have returned to the top ten at the team’s home race today following a difficult run of form that had seen them pick up just three points in the previous seven races.

The drivers crossed the line within 1.8 seconds of each other with di Resta leading the team’s charge in eighth and Sutil finishing one place further back in ninth. With both drivers yet to be confirmed at the team for next season, the result has certainly come at a good time for all involved at Force India, and di Resta hopes that this form will continue next weekend in Abu Dhabi.

“It’s great to score points here in India – the team’s home grand prix and a really important race for us,” di Resta said. “We’ve steadily improved the car over the last few weeks and I’m feeling more comfortable, so I think we can be optimistic of performing at a similar level in Abu Dhabi next week.”

Sutil took a very different route to di Resta, being just one of two drivers to successfully one-stop despite Pirelli warning against this strategy. The German driver confirmed after the race that this decision was only made during the grand prix itself.

“The target was to score points so eighth and ninth places are a great result for us today,” he explained. “My one-stop strategy was the riskier approach and it was only during the race that we decided to go ahead with it.

“After some difficult races recently, we showed everybody what we can achieve with some great teamwork today.”

This result has seen the team widen the gap to Sauber in the battle for sixth place in the constructors’ championship to 23 points with three races remaining.

Hartley happy with ‘big progression’ on first day with Toro Rosso

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With 69 laps completed (28 in free practice one and 41 in free practice two) and respectable lap times in both sessions, Brendon Hartley quickly acclimated to a modern day Formula 1 chassis in his first run with Scuderia Toro Rosso in Friday practice for the United States Grand Prix.

The Porsche factory driver has been drafted into the team following a convoluted series of musical chairs that sees Daniil Kvyat back after a two-race absence, Carlos Sainz Jr. now at Renault and Pierre Gasly racing at the Super Formula season finale in Suzuka.

Over the time in the car today, Hartley experienced changeable conditions in FP1 before a more normal FP2, and discovered the new F1 cockpit after a day learning in the garage yesterday.

“A steep learning curve today! It all went pretty smoothly and I kept the car on track without making too many mistakes, so I’m quite happy,” the New Zealander reflected at day’s end.

“I didn’t really know what to expect from today because I just had so much to learn! I think I made quite a big progression throughout the day.

“The biggest difference from what I’m used to is the high-speed grip, it’s incredible here in Formula 1…it was quite an eye-opener! Another challenge are the tires, which are also quite different to what I’m used to. On the other hand, the long-run looks quite positive and I did a good job managing the tires there – the biggest thing I need to work on now is the new tire pace, and I’ll get another crack at it tomorrow morning before qualifying.

“All in all, I’d say it’s all coming together. We’ll now work hard and go through plenty of data tonight and hopefully I’ll make another step forward tomorrow.”

His best lap was 1.1 seconds up on Friday driver Sean Gelael, the Indonesian Formula 2 driver, in FP1 (1:39.267 to 1:40.406, good enough for 14th) and 1.1 seconds off the returning Kvyat in FP2 (1:37.987 to 1:36.761, good enough for 17th). Interestingly, the Gelael/Hartley combination in FP1 marked the second time in three races that Toro Rosso had a pair of drivers in its cars without a single Grand Prix start between them – Gasly’s debut at Malaysia was the other, when he and Gelael were in in FP1.

Coming into Friday’s running, Hartley said he was more ready for this opportunity now than he had been as a teenager. He admitted he’d called Red Bull’s Helmut Marko in the wake of Porsche’s LMP1 withdrawal news earlier this year to say he was game for any chance that might come.

“I’m a lot stronger than I was back then, basically. I wasn’t ready at 18 years old. I like to think I’m ready now,” he said.

“I haven’t driven a single-seater since 2012, but I like to think that Porsche LMP1 has hopefully prepared me well.”

As for the rest of his weekend, it’s been made more complicated by Hartley being assessed a 25-spot grid penalty, even though Hartley had done nothing to accrue the penalties.

The roundabout sequence of driver changes at Toro Rosso saw Gasly replace Kvyat, Kvyat replace Sainz, and now Hartley replace Gasly, as is outlined by NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton below.