14:00 – 15:00: QUALIFYING
Q1, the 18-minute opening phase of qualifying, does not lend itself well to taking chances, and teams usually err on the side of caution.
“We use software that shows where the others are and what they are doing and you can also look historically at what they have done,” the Force India chief race engineer further explains. “There are a certain number of runs you can do to find the right traffic windows.
“Normally you run as fast as possible, with as low fuel as possible, with the best tyre. But it is very risky in Q1 because there are so many cars, there can be yellow flags, there is so much traffic, you can miss your lap. Teams tend to run a bit earlier, with a bit more fuel, and a bit more flexibility.
“It’s not automatic for us to get into Q3, so it’s about making sure we get the right track position, with the right fuel, the right tyre preparation: software tools, race engineer and strategy engineer have to work closely together.
“There are more drivers who are quick on a Sunday than are fast on a Saturday. Driving a car to the limit when it’s all about getting the fastest lap time on a low fuel level and new tyres tends to be the hardest skill.”