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Force India to start 15th and 16th after Toyotas punished

Last updated on: March 28, 2009 20:52 IST

Force India's second qualifying goal didn't materialise but lady luck smiled on them and Giancarlo Fisichella will start 15th while his teammate Adrian Sutil 16th after the Toyota cars were pushed to the back of the grid for Sunday's Australian Grand Prix for breaking technical rules.

Force India's hopes of making the second qualifying (Q2) session went up in smoke after Fisichella (18th) and Sutil (19th) found themselves among the slowest five drivers who dropped out after the first qualifying session (Q1).

Luckily for them, the Toyotas of Timo Glock and Jarno Trulli, who had finished sixth and eighth respectively in the qualifying session, were later pushed to the back of the grid after stewards found their cars to be in contravention of the rules.

A post-qualifying inspection by the FIA found the TF109s' to have 'extreme flexibility' in their rear wings, thus breaking Formula One racing's technical regulations.

Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton will start 18th after his McLaren gearbox suffered troubles, which also benefited the Force India drivers.

In fact the grid may see some more changes following Williams' complaint about the wings of Red Bull and Ferrari cars.

For Force India, Sutil's ninth place finish in Friday's practice sessions raised the hopes of the VJM02 car making it to the Q2 for a better start in the season opener tomorrow but it proved false dawn in the end.

With the field proving even closer than last year where 1.5 seconds covered 10th to 20th, Fisichella and Sutil were among the five drivers who dropped out after the first qualifying session.

"For sure we were hoping after yesterday's performance to be able to make it into Q2 but in the end it was not possible. Things looked better in practice but perhaps the others were not showing all their potential," said a candid Sutil.

The German said the car needed downforce and said his priority would be to take to the chequered flag tomorrow.

"We know we have plenty to work on, our main problem is that we need a lot more downforce. My main goal now will be to make it to the end of the race tomorrow and then let's see where we are. It's even tighter than last year," Sutil said.

Fisichella, meanwhile, was not too surprised by the outcome.

"We knew that it would be difficult today, but considering what we have done so far this year, with the limited pre-season testing, being just two tenths slower than the 2008 world champion is a good result," said Fisichella.

"Being so close shows it's already a very challenging season. I had a good lap and I am happy as I have been struggling a bit with the brakes and locking all weekend and I'm not driving as I want.

"But all this considered, there is really good potential in this car so we are looking forward to working it through," he said.

"For Sunday, first of all we need to get to the end of the race - that's the main goal and then we'll see," added the Roman with more than 200 Formula One races under his belt.

Chief race engineer Dominic Harlow expected both Sutil and Fisichella to make it to Q2 but still insisted any thing can happen tomorrow.

"Unfortunately it was not the outcome we'd hoped for as both drivers narrowly missed out on Q2. The drivers and engineers got close to getting the best they could from the car this weekend," he said.

"Given how our programme started late, we've made enormous progress already and we know that there is plenty in the pipeline," Harlow said.

"The race is going to be a good one, and it will be interesting to see the strategies that are adopted now that all the teams must commit to a race start fuel load just two hours after confirming their grid position," Harlow added.

Jenson Button claimed the pole position, edging out teammate Rubens Barrichello as the Brawn team occupied the front row tomorrow.

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