Following a physically demanding start to the calendar with four races in five weeks, the Spanish Grand Prix from 8 - 10 May marks the start of the more regularised European leg of the FIA Formula One World Championship. Teams will now return to a standard one race per fortnight format, shorter travel distances and the comfort of personalised hospitality units at familiar tracks. With a solid start to the year and further modifications to its VJM02 cars to come, the Force India Formula One Team is eagerly anticipating this next stage of the championship.
Dr Vijay Mallya, chairman and team principal
The Spanish Grand Prix marks the start of the European season, where teams traditionally introduce the next stage of developments. Will the VJM02 cars have further upgrades this weekend?
I was very pleased to see the clear improvement we demonstrated in Bahrain as a result of the new diffuser and aero upgrades. To get both cars fitted with the modified floor in such a short time was a major undertaking, particularly from a team with such a limited workforce and budget as Force India. This of course was only the first stage in development and for Barcelona we'll have yet more upgrades coming through based on the information we gained in Bahrain. We'll be running a driver-adjustable front wing flap and a further modification for the front wing. This is just part of our ongoing development cycle and there will be further upgrades at most of the forthcoming races.
Will the team be running KERS in Barcelona as originally planned?
No, we will not be running KERS in Spain. At the beginning of the year, it was our provisional plan to introduce the system for the start of the European season, but we have decided to put the emphasis on aero development where we feel the greater gains can be found. As we've seen many other teams are not running KERS so we do not feel we are at a disadvantage. We still plan to use it later in the season, but this will be reviewed after each race in line with the other work we have going on in the background.
You have said in the past that the European season will be where Force India starts to race. Do you stand by this?
We always said that the first four flyaway races would be extended test sessions and we have indeed used them wisely. We've accustomed ourselves to the new systems, new personnel and new ways of working and introduced some very worthwhile upgrades. We are already racing but we can always improve. We've achieved more than I thought so in this respect I can't stand by the earlier comments - I want more now!
Adrian Sutil (car 20, VJM02/03)
How would you review the first four races?
Bahrain was, overall, a good weekend. Qualifying was our best performance yet and in the race both Giancarlo and myself could put in consistent times. The team should be really happy with that weekend. For me personally I am pleased with my start to the season. In the past I have not started well and it's taken some time to get into the season, but straightaway this year we were racing and I've finished three out of the four races. As a team we've been very consistent, the car has felt good and well balanced and we have made some steps forward. There is so much more to get out of the VJM02 and for Spain we will get another upgrade, which hopefully will be enough to stay and race the other cars and maybe even reach second qualifying.
What are your thoughts on the Spanish Grand Prix and the Circuit de Catalunya?
Barcelona is a track we all know really well from the laps we do over the winter. This year I did nearly 1,000km there! This means you can go to the circuit with a set-up that's pretty much ready to go. I like the circuit, it flows quite well, apart from the chicane at the end though, of course. The crowd is always huge as well - it gives you a buzz when you drive round.
What will your objectives for Spain be?
Let's see how the upgrades go. The modifications in Bahrain worked better than we thought and gave us about four tenths a lap, but we have to keep introducing more new parts to just stay with the others. Last time we were racing, but everyone else is moving forward as well so we need to stay focussed and get the most out of what we have.
Giancarlo Fisichella (car 21, VJM02/04)
Giancarlo, the Spanish Grand Prix has been a relatively successful race for you in the past. Is it an event you look forward to?
I enjoy going to Barcelona as it's good to get back to Europe, with the tracks we know very well. I also posted two fastest race laps there in 1997 and 2005, so I feel comfortable on the circuit. Barcelona is itself a nice track. We know it very well as we do a lot of days there in winter testing. There are a couple of interesting corners such as one and two and a few quick corners like turns three and nine. There's a hairpin in first or second gear at turn 10 and at the exit there is quite a lot of wheelspin, which makes it very difficult for the tyres. Unfortunately the new chicane at 14 and 15 disturbs the rhythm of the lap, so it's not as exciting as it was a couple of years ago when the last two corners were very difficult. It's always good to get back to Europe though - a good result there sets you up for the start of the European season.
What would be a good result for you in Spain?
In Bahrain we showed we had a much better car than in previous races but we still need another couple of steps and then we will be able to challenge for points. Last year we had a good race and finished 10th but as we've seen reliability with everyone has been very good so we shouldn't make too many predictions. It's not going to be easy as the others are improving as well, but I think a good result would be top 12.
Force India Spanish GP points of note:
Giancarlo Fisichella has scored two fastest race laps in his career. Both were secured at the Circuit de Catalunya, the first in 1997 with Jordan and the second in 2005 with Renault. He has also finished on the podium once in 2006, again with Renault
Back to the motorhomes: Force India will be using the same motorhome as last season - the three-storey steel and glass structure. Standing 11m wide by 11m long and 9.5m tall, it uses 260 panels of glass and weighs 40 tonnes. It takes ten people three days to erect
Force India brings five trucks to European races, three of which are 'pump up' style double-decker trucks. The first pump up is a mobile gearbox, hydraulics, sub assembly and electronics workspace, the second a spares truck and office space and the third houses IT servers and engineers' offices. The final two trucks take the cars and set-up equipment
Tonio Liuzzi participated in the A1GP championship finale at Brands Hatch on 3 May. The Italian raced his A1 Team Italy car to 10th position in the Sprint race and 9th in the Feature
About the Spanish Grand Prix
The Spanish Grand Prix has changed venues several times over its long history. It was held four times at the Montjuich Park street circuit but safety concerns after the disastrous 1975 event led to its demise, and thereafter the race was held at Jarama and Jerez. The flowing 4.655km Circuit de Catalunya track just outside Barcelona has been the venue since 1991. It was seen as an important part of Barcelona's build-up to the following year's Olympic Games.
The circuit is typical of a high downforce F1 circuit, featuring a mixture of corner speeds and types, but has been neutered somewhat since the last race in 2006 by the addition of a chicane. Now, instead of defined turns 14 and 15, two of the fastest corners on the calendar, there's a new complex that slows the rhythm of the lap.
Nevertheless, the chicane still presents its own challenge with a blind entry and perhaps a better chance to overtake on the following straight. As a result, the circuit is now quite hard on brakes and remains tough on tyres.
-credit: force india