Britain preview quotes: Force India
|Tuesday, June 16th 2009, 08:50 GMT|
Q. Apart from the German Grand Prix, does Silverstone feel like a home race for you?
AS: For sure. The team is based about 400m from the main gates and Silverstone feels like a second home to me now as I go there so often. The race is a very special one, not just because it's the home race, there is something about the atmosphere that has a buzz unlike anywhere else. The British fans love their motorsport and it's not just for Lewis or Jenson, you really feel their enthusiasm for the sport in general.
The track is also a very good one. It's very fast and there are some great sections such as the Copse to Maggotts section that you have to take quickly but be gentle on the gas and on the brakes - I know, I've had some offs there in the past! The final complex slows the lap down a bit and you lose your rhythm slightly but the final turn on Woodcote can be tricky to get right. The walls are very close!
Q. What are your aims for this race?
AS: We have a new aero package at Silverstone and I am really looking forward to driving it. We've looked at the numbers back in the factory and it shows a clear improvement so I am keen to get my hands on it and really try and mix it up in the midfield.
I had quite a good race in Turkey and could fight with both the McLarens and also a Brawn so just a little bit more performance could see us in the hunt for points. But it's so competitive out there we have to be right on top of our game right through from free practice.
Q. Silverstone often has changeable weather. Would this be an advantage?
AS: Last year the rain was really bad but it didn't go in our favour! But generally speaking we do seem to perform well when the conditions are mixed. If the race in Malaysia hadn't been stopped I think I could have been well placed as we had stopped for the right tyres and were fuelled to the end, and then of course we had a great race in China. But regardless of the conditions you've got to perform and we've shown we can be competitive in the dry as well. I don't want to be sitting waiting for the rain at every race.
Q. The Turkish Grand Prix was a disappointing outcome for you. Are there any positives you can take from it?
GF: Turkey was just one of those races. We'd been struggling with a brake problem for most of the weekend and changed all the systems to see if it made any difference. Unfortunately on the way to the grid the car started locking up and we had to make some more changes on the grid. The repairs made some improvements but then three laps into the race the front was locking again and I couldn't get the maximum power on the straight. We came into the pits to try and fix it again but in the end it was too risky to continue.
I haven't had good luck at Turkey for the past three years! For these reasons it's hard to be very positive about my weekend as it was a bit frustrating, but as a team we've continued to move forward. Adrian got into Q2 and perhaps I could have as well if I hadn't had the brake issue and we're clearly racing with the field. That's a clear step forward from last year.
Q. Silverstone is the team's home race effectively, being so close to the factory. Do you think of this race any differently?
GF: Silverstone is such a historic track and the atmosphere is always great that racing there is always a special feeling, but for sure I do feel something more now I'm with Force India. The whole team work so hard and quite often for little reward in terms of points and results, that I really hope I can put on a good show while they can see it. With the new upgrades coming through I'm pretty confident that would be possible.
Q. Do you enjoy the circuit?
GF: For me, it's one of the best circuits of the year. The first part of the circuit, from Copse to Becketts is very high speed, taken nearly flat. We slow down just a little bit at the end of the pit straight, then we go flat again. We lift the throttle pedal just a little for four at the middle of the complex and then back on it again for five. Even turn seven, Stowe, is another nice, quick fourth gear corner before a hairpin in turn eight, Vale.
Through Club it's quite difficult as the car is sliding around on four wheels, with the rear end very nervous. Under the bridge is now quite easy, but a few years ago it was much more difficult. The last corner through the complex is typically understeer but you need to have a good exit as then you're across the start finish line. If this year will be the last race at Silverstone, I'll be sad to see it go.
Dr Vijay Mallya
Q. Halfway through the season now, how would you review the team's performance so far?
VM: I'm very pleased. I think we've shown excellent progress, and in this sport, which is so competitive, it's unreasonable to expect some miraculous results. We made Q2 in Monaco, we made Q2 again in Istanbul, obviously not by chance, but on merit and that is a huge step forward. Now we've had two in a row, and hopefully with a new upgrade to come in Silverstone we should make Q2 going forward for the rest of this season, and without too much difficulty.
We're not quite in the points yet, but we're a good midfield competitor. I always said that the idea would be to get some points this year, be regularly in the points next year in 2010. And I've talked about podium finishes in 2011 to coincide with the Indian GP. I think I'm pretty much on track!
Q. How frustrating is it not to have scored points - your ultimate aim - this year?
VM: It's so competitive now, and being so close is just part of the game. I would have loved to have had a point. We were just one place away in Monaco and also Australia, but there's always the next race. One has to move on. Turkey was race number seven, there are still 10 more to go, and we're not even half way through the season, although it seems like that with all the activity that is surrounding Formula One.
Q. Silverstone is traditionally where teams introduce the next stage of development. Does Force India have anything in the pipeline for this event?
VM: Yes, we have a fairly large upgrade scheduled for this weekend. We will introduce changes to the front wing, bodywork and floor with one or two detail updates elsewhere as well. It's a significant step forward and I am very pleased that the team has been able to explore, build and then get this on the car before the summer break. Our rate of development has, I would say, been quite impressive given the small number of people and the limited budget we have available and I hope the overall package will take a step forward this weekend.
Q. Is Silverstone a special race for the team?
VM: Absolutely, the home team is playing on the home ground! Because it's home to us Silverstone is special, and we're unveiling a new package for Silverstone. And hopefully we'll get the improved performance out of the car and get to Q2 without difficulty. The World Twenty20 is on as well, so all my cricket friends are in the UK. Kevin Pietersen will probably attend - as you know he plays for my team. There will be a lot of people from India and South Africa, so I am looking forward to a good mix of all my business interests!