|© Force India
Force India is anticipating to get the better of Sauber at the Malaysian Grand Prix this weekend suggesting that it has planted itself as the best team in the mid-field early in the season.
Over the last three years, the two squads have been battling for supremacy outside the top five, with Sauber claiming sixth in the constructors' championship in 2012, although early indications suggests that this year seems to have has tilted in Force India's favour so far.
Both Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta scored points in the season-opening Australian GP last weekend while Sauber suffered after Nico Hulkenberg failed to start for safety reasons while the German’s teammate Esteban Gutierrez, a rookie, finished 13th.
“In Melbourne, obviously we proved to be a little bit quicker than Sauber,” Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley told F1Pulse.com “I am hoping that we can do the same here (in Malaysia).”
Sauber’s results largely depend on the experienced Hulkenberg, who raced for Force India last season, firing on all cylinders with Fernley acknowledging the 25-year-old German as “a challenge”.
“Absolutely, there’s no question. I don’t think we should underestimate that at all,” he said.
Nevertheless, Force India is comfortable with its relative race pace and wasn’t perturbed with its immediate rivals performing the longest race stint on the prime tyres with Gutierrez in Melbourne.
“Because it depends on the pace he did the 30 laps on,” Fernley pointed out referring to the Mexican’s 13th place finish.
Qualifying was another aspect where Force India intends to leave no stone unturned as it intends to capitalise on McLaren’s recent woes, although it expected the British team to bounce back soon.
“You should always try and qualify as high as you can,” he said dismissing the idea that the team would prefer to remain in Q2 to gain a tyre and strategic advantage. “The higher you can qualify the less you get involved in the after-effects of the start.”