New Force India driver Paul di Resta will line up 14th for the Australia Grand Prix in Melbourne after marking his F1 debut by out-qualifying his team-mate Adrian Sutil.
The Silverstone-based team had been hoping to start further up the grid but believes overall reliability and a dependable KERS system will allow its drivers to make forward progress in a race that often suffers a high rate of attrition.
Scotsman Di Resta said: “I think if you’d have said that we would be starting the race from P14 going in to qualifying, we’d have been pretty happy. So for my first qualifying session I think we have to be happy with our result today and it gives me a place to build on for the future.
“I’d like to thank everyone in the team for their efforts and I’m really looking forward to the race tomorrow.”
In a statement, the team said: “The qualifying results are consistent with the times set by both drivers during the free practice sessions this weekend. Paul and Adrian will be on the 7th and 8th rows of the grid respectively, right in the middle of the action.”
Team chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer added: “Today’s standings built on our free practice results and gave us some additional information on the Pirelli tyres. Australia is a race renowned for its high rate of attrition and we feel confident that our tried and tested KERS hybrid system and overall reliability will hold us in good stead.
“We have paid close attention to our tyre strategy today as we believe that tyre choice and management will impact significantly on performance throughout the grid tomorrow. Whilst it would have been preferable to qualify higher up the grid, we are targeting race points and look forward to getting the season under way.”
Di Resta owed his position ahead of Sutil partly to a mistake by the German, who spun in the final seconds when he used his Drag Reduction System before he’d fully exited the last corner of the circuit.