Vijay Mallya sums up the fly-away races and sets his sights on more success in Europe.
Vijay, 54 points from four races and Sahara Force India is third in the standings. The team’s best ever start to a season continues… “I think we can feel extremely satisfied with our performance during the first four races. We’ve been in the points in every race, Sergio has been on the podium and Nico has finished no lower than sixth place. We’ve already scored 70% of the total points we scored in 2013 and that puts us in a fantastic position to potentially enjoy our best season to date.”
What are your expectations for Barcelona and the other upcoming tracks? “It’s encouraging that we have performed well across a wide range of circuits, so I’m optimistic that we can maintain our competitive form in Barcelona. China has never been an especially strong track for us, so to come away with ten points was a very good effort. We also expect our car to perform better in warmer conditions and there are some upcoming races that will play more to our strengths. At the same time we know that Formula One never stands still and Barcelona is always a pivotal moment in the development race, but I’m optimistic we can keep up our momentum.”
It’s going well off the track as well with the team announcing a significant partnership with Smirnoff last week… “It’s an exciting time for us. Smirnoff is another global brand keen to be part of our journey and ready to take advantage of the marketing power offered by Formula One. The partnership means we have now signed ten new partners in the last six months and that has made a vital contribution to our competitiveness this year.”
Driver's View: Nico Hulkenberg
Nico, fourth in the standings after four races – an ideal way to start the European season… “I’ve enjoyed the first part of the year. It’s probably gone better than we were expecting after winter testing and it’s good to keep picking up the points. I’m fourth with 36 points and I think that’s a big achievement. The car has worked well everywhere and we’ve made the most of the opportunities. Consistency is surely one of our strengths at the moment.”
Has the strong start to the season changed the attitude inside the team? “I think this team has always been hungry and that’s still very much the case. We’re up in third in the championship and we want to stay there. The hard work over the winter is paying off, but we know that Formula One is always a development race and things can change from one weekend to the next. So we need to keep working hard to maintain our good position.”
Barcelona next, do you expect this track to be a challenge? “Even though we know the place inside out, it remains a tough, tricky circuit and one of those places where it’s especially important to optimise the car balance. If you don’t feel totally comfortable with the car it really hurts your laptime. Barcelona is the true test for downforce because of the quick corners in the first and second sectors. Traction is also important in the final part of the lap with the low-speed corners and we should be strong there.”
Driver's View: Sergio Perez
Sergio Perez prepares for the start of the European season in Barcelona.
Sergio, Formula One is heading to Europe – are you feeling ready for Barcelona? “I love coming back to Europe to race on some of the classic circuits. I enjoy Barcelona and for me it’s one of the best circuits on the whole calendar. It’s very complete with a mix of everything and some very long, quick corners. It’s tough physically, especially on the neck with so many right hand corners, but it’s a fun place to drive a Formula One car. It’s always a race where teams bring new updates so it’s going to be interesting to see how everyone will perform there.”
You’ve had four races as a Sahara Force India driver – are you happy with how things are going? “On the one hand I’m happy. The podium in Bahrain was very important; it helped me get to know the team properly and gave us all something special to celebrate. At the same time I feel there is more to come and that we’ve yet to achieve our full potential. Bahrain has been the only weekend where everything has worked out perfectly. If we can have more weekends like that I think we can get some more great results.”
Are you enjoying the racing this year? Is it more challenging than you expected? “It’s not any harder or any easier than last year; it’s just different. The grip has changed and the sound is different, but it’s still a Formula One car and the competition element has not changed a bit. It already feels normal to me after just four races.”
Sahara Force India