Jun.23 (GMM) As F1's topsy-turvy 2012 seeks an eighth different winner at the eighth race weekend of the season, Force India appeared to leap into contention in Valencia.
Paul di Resta was sixth fastest on Friday morning, before his teammate Nico Hulkenberg came a mere tenth of a second from upstaging Sebastian Vettel for the best time of the entire day.
So far in 2012, the Silverstone based team has appeared largely out of the loop, as its formerly midfield rivals including Lotus, Sauber and Williams genuinely battle for champagne spoils in the hotly-contested and unique 2012 title race.
But harbour-side this weekend, it could be Force India's turn.
"There is no explanation for it," Hulkenberg marvelled to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, insisting the Mercedes-powered car has not been majorly upgraded, or is particularly well-suited to the Spanish street layout.
Montreal winner Lewis Hamilton admitted: "Force India looks massively quick so who knows what's going to happen."
Also comparatively quick, however, are Red Bull, Sauber, Mercedes, Williams, Ferrari, Lotus and McLaren -- all separated by less than a second on Friday.