The British team, which has done fairly well in the 2015 season so far, says that Force India and Lotus provide a real threat to their podium chances at the Belgian Grand Prix. The team’s Finnish sensation Valtteri Bottas finished qualifying in third, behind the Mercedes 1-2 of polesitter Lewis Hamilton and teammate Nico Rosberg.
He was followed by Romain Grosjean of Lotus and Force India’s Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez and outraced them, but by a miniscule margin, with each of them incredibly close to the 1:48.5 mark – down to nearly the same hundredth of a second.
Williams chief of performance, Robert Smedley, told assembled press that he thought it would be a ‘close affair’ at the race, which is to be held this evening. He described Force India’s performance as ‘unexpected’, saying that the team’s reduced downforce would greatly help them.
While Perez finished qualifying in 5th, he will start tomorrow’s race in 4th, as Grosjean serves penalties for a new gearbox. The Frenchman has 5 penalty places and will start in 9th today.
Sergio Perez was confident going into today’s race, and told press that he believed Force India could be a force to reckon with at Spa. The team brought a B-spec of their car, the VJM08, to the venue, where both Perez and teammate Hulkenberg finished inside the top 10 last year.
"I think we have reason to dream of the podium," he said. "I think we can fight with Williams,” Perez said following qualifying.
Teammate Hulkenberg, who earlier this year won the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race driving for Porsche, also looked to be strong at qualifying, but was eliminated at the end of Q2 following a power loss and driving error at the La Source turn. He will begin in 11th today.
Read our detailed report of qualifying here.