Force India set to switch focus to 2009
|By Jonathan Noble
||Tuesday, July 15th 2008, 09:35 GMT
Force India boss Vijay Mallya says his team will soon switch their focus to 2009 in a bid to make the most of the opportunity thrown up by new Formula One regulations.
Although he is willing to see his team make a step forward before the end of this year, and has high hopes their new seamless shift gearbox due to be introduced in Hungary will help them do that, he is mindful of not compromising efforts for next season.
And despite the team not yet having achieved their season-long ambition of making it through to Q2, Mallya has conceded he may have to accept their current form for the remainder of the campaign.
"At the start of the season in Melbourne we were right up there, and competing with Honda and Williams and Toro Rosso," said Mallya on Tuesday about their season so far.
"We achieved a 12th place, an 11th place, a 10th place finish, and we were running fourth in Monaco. Then suddenly everything has gone a bit flat, and the gap increased, so clearly the others made more progress than we did.
"Then we introduced the Silverstone package, which has given us a catch up, so we are back to where we were. Now we have some more small modifications coming for Hockenheim, which we've tested this week.
"We're also the only team that doesn't have a seamless shift gearbox, and that's a couple of tenths any way you look at it. When we have that, that is where we need to really push.
"That's all the significant modifications we have left for this year, because if I keep on hammering the team to produce better results this season, I'll compromise 2009, which is a huge opportunity.
"Trust me, I'm putting my heart, soul, money and a lot more into 2009, and I intend to be right there!'
Giancarlo Fisichella has echoed his team boss's view that the best hope of a step forward will be in Hungary and not at Hockenheim this weekend.
"We're slowly getting there, the new parts at Silverstone were only two tenths from getting us into Q2 and if I had not spun on my fastest lap in qualifying, perhaps we would have got through for the first time this year," said the Italian.
"With the seamless shift box due to debut in Hungary, we should perhaps look to this race for a better step forward rather than in Germany, but I'll still be pushing in this race."
Mallya has also called on his team to start making more of the opportunities that have come their way this year at incident-filled Grands Prix.
"There are so many variables in F1, given the competitive nature of the sport, that sometimes you get one thing right and two things wrong. That's what makes it so exciting, but makes it equally frustrating.
"I can't help but think about the fact that Rubens Barrichello was a couple of tenths away from Adrian in qualifying for the British Grand Prix, and when Adrian was running, he was in 11th and Barrichello was 10th.
"As we know, Rubens finished on the podium after a great race, so maybe we could have done things better. So this race was really an opportunity missed. Hopefully we'll not make the same mistake again."