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Mat Coch writes:
Force India is quietly confident after a strong performance on the first day of running in Singapore. The Anglo-Indian squad had both drivers comfortably inside the top ten in both sessions, firing an ominous warning shot across Sauber's bow.
"It wasn't a bad day," smiled Nico Hulkenberg after final practice. "A big compromise with the rain, but it's the same for everybody.
"I think we've run through the programme quite nicely," he added.
"We got through what we had to both on the lower fuel end and the higher fuel end," agreed Paul di Resta, who ended the 'afternoon' session (since the F1 circus remains on European time) sixth fastest. "I think the car seems to be performing quite well so hopefully it will carry on with it tomorrow."
After strong performances at the low downforce Spa and Monza circuits, on the back of improved showings before the summer break, the team is quickly building its championship fight after a tardy start.
"The last two races have been testing and I've come out and scored points in both," said di Resta. "Obviously in Spa losing KERS and Monza losing grid position that obviously affected our race I'd imagine as we'd have probably beaten the Mercedes in Monza, which would have made it an exceptional race.
"This track suited our car last year so obviously something in the basics is working, and also Valencia treated us well this year."
"This track comes towards our car a little bit," echoed Hulkenberg, "lots of low speed corners and that suits us a little bit."
Sunday's race looks set to be determined by tyre wear, with Pirelli anticipating a two-stop strategy from most. With a large disparity between the soft and super soft compounds - believed to be as much as 1.5 seconds a lap over its short life - teams will be focussed on developing a strategy that will be kind on its rubber.
"It's going to be a challenge here, the nature of the circuit and so many traction events," agreed Hulkenberg. "It's a rear killer circuit that's for sure."
Chasing Sauber for sixth in the Constructors' Championship, a team whose car is famed for its ability to look after its tyres, Force India trails its rivals by thirty-seven points having lost further ground at Monza. The squad needs to capitalise on its potential in Singapore if it is to have a realistic hope of catching the Swiss team.
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