The Force India Formula One Team's attention now turns to the tenth round of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship, the German Grand Prix from 18 - 20 July at the Hockenheimring, a 4.574km high-speed loop through the forests near ...
The Force India Formula One Team's attention now turns to the tenth round of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship, the German Grand Prix from 18 - 20 July at the Hockenheimring, a 4.574km high-speed loop through the forests near Frankfurt.
In preparation for this race, the team tested at the circuit last week. Over the three days Adrian Sutil and Giancarlo Fisichella worked on tuning the set-up for the challenges of the track and gathered further information on the new aero package debuted at the British Grand Prix two weeks ago.
Following a disappointing British Grand Prix, the team will be looking to have an improved result in Germany, Adrian's home race.
Interview with Dr Vijay Mallya, chairman and managing director
Q: How would you review the Silverstone weekend, now one week after its conclusion?
'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.'
Q: Was it encouraging to see the improved pace of the cars in the dry?
'At the start of the season in Melbourne we were right up there, and competing with Honda and Williams and Toro Rosso. 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 anyway 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!'
Q: In Silverstone, as in other races, you had many VIP guests. Is this a mark of the team's increased presence, or a simple fact of being the home race and having more interest in this event?
'India and England have such a close relationship, that London is almost a second home to Indians. So compared to any other race, for all our sponsors and VIP guests coming to England is something very special. We had so many of our friends and our guests there, and we loved having them. Obviously they were a little bit disappointed with the race, like I was! But coming to England is something special for us.'
Q: Sachin Tendulkar was a guest of the team in Magny-Cours and Silverstone. What does it mean to have support from an Indian legend?
'He's a fantastic guy, an outstanding cricketer, probably one of the finest that the world has ever seen or produced. He's a true Indian at heart, and loves to see the Indian flag.'
Q: Cricket has always been the national sport now, has Formula One taken on the same status yet?
'The way we look at it, India never qualified for the Olympic hockey, and in football we didn't qualify for the World Cup. Here we have an Indian team that's actually racing in the World Championship. That itself is an honour, to fly the Indian standard at one of the top flight levels of the sport.'
Q: Is there an expectation from India though to be on top of the game as the Indian cricket team is?
'Of course, we need to now show better and get better results, but it has only been six months since we took over, so what can you expect? Ferrari didn't win a World Championship for years until Michael Schumacher came along in 1996, and even then it took three or four years to win. So people can't expect miracles from me in one season, but I'm getting there, and I'm showing that I'm inching forward. The commitment is there, the determination is there. I'm a guy that enforces accountability everywhere, so I'll make sure we have the right answers, we don't make the same mistakes, and we capitalise on our opportunities. Our real focus is on 2009, and I'm absolutely determined that in 2009, we'll have some reason to be proud.'
'To drive at the Hockenheimring is a very good feeling for me as it will be my home race. It's a great circuit to drive, a very nice feeling for an F1 driver, with hairpins, long straights and really quick corners. The motodrome is such a fantastic complex: to go in there and hear the crowd is amazing. I have very good memories from the past here - both as a fan and as a driver - which is why I am so pleased to be here now. I think I am well prepared for my home Grand Prix after the test, so hopefully it will bring me a little bit of luck. I'm absolutely looking forward to my home Grand Prix.'
'Hockenheim is a good circuit for drivers, with the long straights and hairpins, and there are a couple of overtaking points, which make it good racing. It's not actually one of my favourites of the year, but I do have some good memories of the event, especially in 1997 when I led the race.
'We were at Hockenheim last week for the test and tried out some more new parts. 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. 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.'
German Grand Prix information
The German Grand Prix is held at the Hockenheimring in Germany's Rhine Valley. This will be the first visit to the 4.574km loop for two years as the Nurburgring hosted the only race in Germany last year. With five German drivers competing this season - including Force India's Adrian Sutil - the atmosphere at this race will be electric.
Hockenheim is one of the older venues on the calendar. The circuit hosted the German Grand Prix for the first time in 1970 when drivers boycotted the old Nurburgring on safety grounds. In 1971 the race returned to the Cologne track, but in 1977 F1 came back to Hockenheim, where it has been held almost every year since.
Originally built in 1932, the track was a high speed 8km circuit through the forests with a loop through the tiny village of Hockenheim. Later on the 'Motodrom' section was added - a slower complex surrounded by grandstands on three sides that still stand today, even if the structures have been updated. Essentially, it was an oblique oval track with the stadium, but as the cars got quicker in the 60s and 70s, it became clear in the wake of a series of serious incidents, including an accident that claimed the life of Jim Clark, that the average lap speed had to be brought down. As such, chicanes were added to slow the lap.
Until the early 2000s, the lap was almost 7km of pure speed, with only three chicanes and the complex stopping the cars being flat out for the entire lap. It was a logistical challenge to marshall the longest circuit on the calendar, so the track was redesigned by Hermann Tilke in time for the 2002 German Grand Prix. The character of the circuit remained, with the stadium complex intact save a few changes to the surface and also the first corner, but the track was shortened to its current length by cutting out most of the forest loop.
-credit: force india