German GP: Force India preview

For the 2009 FIA Formula One World Championship the German Grand Prix switches back to the Nurburgring in the heart of the Eifel Mountains to the west of Germany. The event, held from 10 - 12 July, will be the ninth round of the 17-round series...

For the 2009 FIA Formula One World Championship the German Grand Prix switches back to the Nurburgring in the heart of the Eifel Mountains to the west of Germany. The event, held from 10 - 12 July, will be the ninth round of the 17-round series and the home event for Force India's engine partner, Mercedes-Benz.

Following a competitive British Grand Prix that saw Giancarlo Fisichella race to tenth overall, just under two seconds from eighth and the last point-scoring position, the Force India Formula One Team has high hopes of opening its point-scoring account this weekend. The team has used the extended three-week gap between races to hone the new aero package debuted in Silverstone and finalise smaller modifications that will be introduced in Germany.

Team Q&A

Dr Vijay Mallya, chairman and team principal

The team introduced a new aero package at Silverstone. How pleased were you to see it work so well?

We were constrained by time in designing and building the initial version of the VJM02, and we had very little pre-season testing time. We knew we had to introduce a significant upgrade in Bahrain, then a more comprehensive upgrade at Silverstone. I think this upgrade showed that the car is now a true, strong midfield competitor. The bottom line is that we're there, and all that I had programmed for the team in terms of gradual improvement in 2009 is happening. Given our relatively small size, this is a great achievement and we'll keep going flat out up to the mandatory August break. I hope that we will score some points during the remainder of this season. Otherwise I'm more than just optimistic - in fact I'm pretty confident - that from 2010 onwards we will be in the points on a regular basis. And that leads me to believe that my often stated objective of being on the podium in 2011 isn't a pipe dream anymore!

How satisfying is it to now see the team running in the midfield?

To be beating cars like the McLarens, the BMWs, the Renaults says a lot for a small team like Force India. In Silverstone there were no luck stories, like it rained or some extraordinary event happened. This is pure racing and that's what gives me the confidence that we'll get there. I can only really say more when we actually get points in our pocket. The commitment of the team and the guys in the factory is fantastic. And not only are we running well, our preparation is also top notch. Adrian's car was a wreck after qualifying but in effect they built up a new car overnight and Adrian took the start. It was a great effort. The entire team is so motivated now, they're going that extra mile. Everybody was pleased with the Silverstone performance, and I think this gives them the confidence that they can actually do it.

What can we expect from the team in Germany?

As we have had a longer gap between Silverstone and Germany the team back at the factory has been working very hard on consolidating the step forward we made at the last event. We will have a continuation of the new front wing assembly we used in Britain and a new detail on the floor. The upgrades in Silverstone gave us extra performance and we'd all like to convert this into a points-scoring position in Germany. Giancarlo was so close to getting them and as I've said, if we had qualified higher perhaps it could have been our race. I know Adrian was frustrated by the Grand Prix and, with this being his home event, he will want to put on a good show in Germany.

Driver Q&A

Adrian Sutil (car 20, VJM02/01)

It's just over the midpoint of the season. Looking at your season so far, has it been as expected for you?

I think it's been a good season so far. We have been able to finish a lot of races and in the last two or three events it was possible to go into Q2, which was a big success for us. For sure the last race in Silverstone was a bit disappointing as it was an important race with our new updates and we had an incident in qualifying. Without this I think we could have been really close to the points, or even in the points. But overall we are consistently making progress and that's the most important.

Have you had any ill effects from the crash in Silverstone?

No not at all. I'm completely fine now and looking forward to Germany!

What can we expect in Germany from you?

Q2 would be very nice and hopefully it would be enough for some points. It's definitely time to get a few. Let's see what the other teams have update-wise as I expect maybe one or two to move a bit to the front and we don't have a major update this time round. But we were pretty strong in Silverstone and I expect to be similar in Germany.

Giancarlo Fisichella (car 21, VJM02/04)

Silverstone was a very competitive race for you. Do you feel the team had made some good progress in the last few events?

Yes, for sure - the races we've had in Monaco and now Silverstone clearly show this. Last year we were struggling at some of the tracks to race with other teams and sometimes I would have very lonely races, but this season we've been right there fighting. It's very encouraging. Every part we've put on the car this year has made a difference in performance so we're clearly going in the right direction. It's very motivating for the team and for me personally as a driver. When you're in the hunt you want it so much more.

Are you looking forward to Germany?

The Nurburgring is a great track. There's lots of camber and gradient change and you can overtake in a couple of corners, which is obviously going to be good for us if we are midfield again. This time out I want to get into Q2, which I think should be possible, and then with a better starting position hopefully we'll be able to finish higher. We're so close to the points I want to finish the job now!

How much would it mean to get those points?

For the team it would be a huge boost. Everyone works really hard and to be this close is actually a bit frustrating. To get this weight off our shoulders would really set us up for the rest of the season.

Force India German GP points of note:

The German Grand Prix is obviously Adrian's home event, although his family are based some 550km away in the south of Germany. Twenty-six year old Adrian was born in Starnberg, just outside Munich.

Since 1996 Giancarlo Fisichella has raced at the Nurburgring in Formula 1 12 times. However before he made his F1 debut, Giancarlo also raced at the circuit on two occasions when he was part of the Alfa Romeo DTM squad (1995 and 1996).

Force India's predecessors, Spyker, had an encouraging race during the last F1 event at the Nurburgring. Heavy rain fell just before the start and Markus Winkelhock, making his Grand Prix debut, pitted on the formation lap. Markus found himself at the head of the field, more than 30secs ahead, when the race was suspended. His lead evaporated at the re-start behind the safety car and he later retired with hydraulic failure.

German Grand Prix information

The modern Nurburgring first hosted an F1 race in 1984 and again in 1985 but it did not return to the calendar until 1995 at the peak of Michael Schumacher's success. At the time, the Eifel track's event was called the European GP as Hockenheim hosted the German Grand Prix, however in 1997 and 1998 it was renamed the Luxembourg GP to leave Jerez access to the European mantle. From 2007 the Nurburgring and the Hockenheimring have alternated years as the host of the German Grand Prix and and it's the latter's turn this year.

The old Nurburgring-Nordschleife sends a shiver down every Grand Prix driver's spine, however the newer incarnation is decidedly tame by comparison to its historic and intimidating 14 mile, 174 corner predecessor. The new, purpose-built track was completed in 1984 to meet the highest safety standards and further changes came in 2002 when the former 'Castrol-chicane' at the end of the start/finish straight was replaced by a sharp right-hander to create an overtaking opportunity. Also, a slow section was inserted, on the site of the former kart track, thus extending the track.

-credit: force india

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Markus Winkelhock , Adrian Sutil
Teams Mercedes , McLaren , Force India