European GP: Force India preview

22 June 2010 - Round nine of the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship sees a return to European soil with the ubiquitously named European Grand Prix. The host city for the event will be the vibrant city of Valencia, which has welcomed the Grand...

22 June 2010 - Round nine of the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship sees a return to European soil with the ubiquitously named European Grand Prix. The host city for the event will be the vibrant city of Valencia, which has welcomed the Grand Prix for the past two years. The Valencia Urban track will be the third street circuit on the calendar so far this year after Monaco and Canada and, after picking up double points finishes in both, the Force India F1 Team is looking forward to another similar performance on the 5.419km course round the Juan Carlos I Marina.

Team Q&A

Dr Vijay Mallya, chairman and team principal

Adrian and Tonio were unlucky in Canada not to have scored more points. Do you think you can make amends for this in Valencia?

Like any event, there were positives and negatives. Two cars back in Q3 and two cars in the points is not something to be sniffed at and earlier in the season we would have been delighted with this. Yet, as we said at the time, given the starting positions and our promising speed over the weekend we would have expected more. Our race pace was however very strong and, even with both drivers racing damaged cars as a result of their separate accidents, we could easily overtake and race with the front of the field. I think Valencia should suit us equally well and with both drivers performing at near optimum levels, and a bit of luck, I think we can finish the job there.

Valencia is a return to Europe and another street circuit. What are your expectations for this one?

Valencia was really where our performance started to show through last year so we are all looking forward to going back there. Our technical team and the drivers are confident we'll go well there as it's medium to low downforce and the performance we showed in Canada demonstrated that we have a strong package on this type of configuration. Additionally we have some new upgrades scheduled for introduction that should keep us abreast of the other teams. It's a development race now and rather than introduce major new upgrades we're doing it as and when ready to keep the momentum high.

Are you pleased with the way Adrian and Tonio are working together this year?

Absolutely. When you see them together there is a harmonious working relationship. They constantly talk about the races, sit in the same debriefs, eat meals together at the circuit and do get on together well, and I think it's one of the many reasons we are performing so well this year. While clearly wanting to be as fast as they can, they believe that the team comes first and by helping the overall level of performance they can, themselves, achieve their own goals. For me it's one of the strongest driver line-ups in the field as they work so well together.

Driver Q&A

Adrian Sutil (car 14, VJM03/03)

How would you review the Canadian Grand Prix?

It was a tough race for us, but quite interesting - there were lots of battles and managing the tyres was a particular key point in doing well. At the start of the race I was racing very hard and was in the top six until I got the puncture when racing with Kubica. It was unlucky as I had to do a whole lap with the tyre basically flat and dropped back. Still, when I got back to speed I could enjoy some good racing, with a lot of fights and found it quite easy to overtake, which shows we're still very competitive. I enjoyed it and although just one point doesn't seem to represent how well we did and our overall level of competitiveness, we can still be relatively pleased with the weekend's performance.

What are your thoughts on the Valencia Urban Track?

Valencia is not my favourite circuit as there's not so much of a challenge for the driver. Even though it's classed as a street circuit, it doesn't really feel like it as there's no challenging corners: it's just braking into hairpins, then flat out. You just don't get the thrill you have on a standard street circuit like Monaco or Singapore. The last complex is a little bit more challenging as there's a left-right chicane taken at high speed followed by another right hander. Then it's just flat out with a few corners into the last turn, which is actually one of the trickiest as we're braking while turning in so it's easy to overshoot the corner and lose it in the exit. Grip levels can be quite low, particularly off line, so you have to judge any overtaking manoeuvre pretty carefully. That said, the track is also very wide with a lot of run off areas so you're not worried about touching a barrier. Over one lap it's not a classic but the racing there can be quite tight and with the cars being so close this year it could produce a good race.

The VJM03 has performed well on street tracks this year and racing on this type of course is a speciality for you - are you hopeful of achieving a good result in Valencia?

Valencia needs a medium to low downforce aero configuration and we've shown that we can perform well on this type of track. We were strong in Canada and I believe we can be quite good in Valencia as well. We've also got some new parts coming for this race that should further improve our performance, including a new front wing and some smaller bodywork changes, plus a few minor suspension component developments. I think it looks promising. We've not had the best luck in Valencia in the past but I hope that the good basic foundations of the car, plus the solid developments we've had over the past races and leading into this one will put us in good shape to get some more points on the board and close the gap to Renault.

Tonio Liuzzi (car 15, VJM03/01)

Canada saw you back to your best, with a Q3 performance and then ninth place in the race. Were you happy with your performance last weekend?

As soon as I got out of the car after the first practice session I knew it was going to be a good weekend. We had decided to swap my chassis and we were confident we had found a solution to the problems we were having in Turkey and Barcelona. Then when we got to Montreal, everything we did seemed to improve the car and the team worked really hard to bring some updates between Friday and Saturday which really helped the balance. I knew that I felt much more comfortable and it showed in qualifying when I got my best-ever starting position in F1. It was therefore a real shame that the first corner accident happened with Felipe [Massa] as I really feel I could have converted the qualifying into a really strong race result. Initially I was disappointed to have missed out on a chance but we still showed we had a really strong race pace, we could overtake and we didn't give up - and that is good news for the rest of the season.

What have you been doing to maintain that momentum since Canada?

I feel that Canada was another start for me and for sure I will be pushing like crazy to keep that level of performance going. I will stick with the chassis I used in Canada from now on because it is working well in the corners. I have always believed that we had the potential to finish in the points and I have always believed in myself and the team has really supported me so it's not like we've done anything new - we've just really focussed on getting the whole package together. Now it's all come together we're really seeing the results so we all need to concentrate hard and build on the strengths we've developed over the past two weeks. I've been back in the factory again and preparing in the simulator and I feel confident about this next race. Looking forward, Valencia is another track that could suit us quite well.

Can you do the same this time out in Valencia?

We hope so. I have never driven in Valencia as it came onto the calendar in 2008 when I was the test and reserve driver at Force India, but I've been working hard in the simulator this week and I think we can have a good pace there. I like street circuits and I can go well on them as I showed in Monaco and Canada. I've also got a bit of a head start there as well as I've been at the last two events and have had access to all of the last years' data, which helps with the preparation. The team also did very well there with Adrian and Giancarlo [Fisichella] finishing in the top 12 and it was really where we started being closer to the points. I know it will be tough but we were mixing it with Mercedes and Renault in Canada and, with our new upgrades to the front and the rear of the car, I'm pretty hopeful we can repeat our performance of Montreal - hopefully without the first lap accident this time!

Paul di Resta, test and reserve driver

Paul, you'll be back in action in FP1 in Valencia after three events out of the car. Are you looking forward to this?

I'm really looking forward to getting back in the car again in Valencia, particularly as it's been a few months since I was last out in practice in Spain. Valencia is quite a good circuit to get back on track as it's fast and smooth and looks pretty easy to learn as a layout. I'm preparing myself for it with the usual simulator work and then we'll walk the track on the Thursday to pick up the smaller details like the kerbing, bumps and any changes from last year that might affect the baseline set-up we run on Friday. Tonio and I will be in pretty similar positions in that we've never raced on the circuit before so we'll work together to get as much information as possible for the rest of the weekend. I've also had a weekend off since Canada - which is pretty unusual this year! - so I feel rested and relaxed ahead of the event.

How much have you learnt since the last time you were in the car?

Every weekend I go to with the team I learn something new, which is really what this year is about. In the last few races I've been on the pitwall, listening to the discussions and seeing how the team operates at this level. There's a lot of information being passed around and you need to interpret that very quickly, and it's not something that - as a driver - you normally get access to during the session. It certainly helps to give an idea of the bigger picture.

-source: force india

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Paul di Resta , Adrian Sutil
Teams Mercedes , Force India