The Force India Formula One Team's debut F1 season will draw to a close this weekend with the final race of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship, the Brazilian Grand Prix. While the year has presented challenges for the team, there have...
The Force India Formula One Team's debut F1 season will draw to a close this weekend with the final race of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship, the Brazilian Grand Prix.
While the year has presented challenges for the team, there have been several high points. It so nearly scored a shock 4th place at the most prestigious race of the year, the Monaco Grand Prix, achieved its first Q2 position in two years at the Italian Grand Prix, introduced a new seamless-shift gearbox and ran as high as second in last month's Singapore Grand Prix. So far, however, points have alluded the Silverstone-based team and the Brazilian race, held at the Autodromo Carlos Pace in Interlagos, Sao Paulo, will represent the last chance to achieve the remaining goal of 2008.
Both drivers will be eagerly anticipating this race. Giancarlo Fisichella has a strong record at the 4.309km track, securing his long-awaited first win there in 2003. The Italian also posted a podium in 2000 with Benetton and has had no fewer than eight top 10 finishes in the past 11 years.
Adrian Sutil, who raced at the bumpy Autodromo for the first time last year, will be looking to finish his second season on a better note following a series of disappointing DNFs in the past three races. No doubt he will also enjoy the support of a small pocket of dedicated fans on account of South American heritage - the German-born driver is half-Uruguayan on his father's side.
Dr Vijay Mallya, chairman and managing director
We are now bringing Force India's debut season to a close in Brazil. I have given the team all the resources they required and I expected significant improvement. As the statistics have shown, we have improved and are now much closer to the midfield, but our progress has rather flattened out since the mid-season. Relative to other teams, we haven't made as much progress as they have, but to be fair to the team after Hungary I made a conscious decision to put time and resources into 2009.
As many of the media has reported, we are currently looking into our package for next season and I hope I will be able to announce a deal very shortly. I will make sure that my team has the best solution for engine, drivetrain and KERS possible so we can get a good head start and try to get the points that have eluded us so far this season.
Before we get to that stage however I would like to see a strong performance in Brazil. We are not finished yet - one more race represents one more chance to score points. While we're realistic, we can't give up yet.
Colin Kolles, team principal
When you look back at the season in terms of results it's been a disappointing season and we'll look to this final race in Brazil to try to end the year on a better note.
I do think we are in a much stronger position compared to where we were a year ago. This time last year we had recently been bought by Force India so it has taken time to build up the infrastructure, budgets and the technical structure. Hopefully we will take a much better step next year, but for now there is still work to do.
Mike Gascoyne, chief technical officer
I think the entire team will be looking forward to Brazil. On the whole I think the team has worked very well this season, we are in a much better position than last year, but in terms of absolute results it has been disappointing not to have scored any points. It would be nice to finish it off in Brazil with a good end to the season.
Interlagos is a fantastic place to finish the year. The track itself is an older circuit, with the most notable feature being the bumps that punctuate the entire track. Although they resurface it every year, it never really seems to improve! It has also got that very long curved straight that provides good passing opportunities into the first corner. The rest of the track is quite slow so it is a real trade off between speed and downforce for the infield.
Brazil was one of the stronger tracks for us last year. We struggled in China on a higher downforce setting and harder tyre, but Interlagos is a lower downforce track using the softer end to the tyre range, which is where the car seems more competitive. We have had a couple of problems with the gearbox in recent races but we didn't do a lot of testing mid season, which is where you would normally iron out these problems. We are now on top of them however and I'm confident we will be reliable in Brazil.
I'm really looking forward to Brazil as it is like a special event for me, being half South American. The track is very enjoyable despite being physically tough. The ambient temperatures can be high and it's sometimes very humid, but the toughest is the bumps. When you're going round the track during the race you really feel each bump! With it being anti-clockwise as well we use the neck muscles we don't normally use.
In Brazil I will have one aim: to finish the race. After three consecutive DNFs we really need this. I've not been happy with the finishing record so far this year, we've just had too many times that we've not got to the flag, either through a mechanical problem or accident - whatever it has been, it's just not enough. if Giancarlo and I can get a good, competitive finish it will be a positive way to end what's been a difficult season for everyone.
I've always had a soft spot for the Brazilian Grand Prix since I scored my first win there in 2003 with Jordan. Although a few of the people who worked on my car back then are still around with Force India, a lot has changed with the team since that year. Despite that the same spirit is there and everyone is motivated to do the maximum and get the best result we can, whether that's a win or just one point.
The motivation is still with me too - I love driving, I still want to do well and push as much as I can. For sure it's disappointing if you are trying your best and you're still 19th or 20th, but that's the situation right now, we just have to deal with it and do what we can. In Brazil we know it's going to be tough, but the target has got to be to stay with the rest of the field and have as competitive a race as possible.
-credit: force india