Following a competitive double finish at last week's German Grand Prix and a productive three-day test last week in Jerez, Spain, the Force India Formula One Team now turns its attention to the 11th round of the FIA Formula One World Championship,...
Following a competitive double finish at last week's German Grand Prix and a productive three-day test last week in Jerez, Spain, the Force India Formula One Team now turns its attention to the 11th round of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Hungarian Grand Prix. Held at the Hungaroring on the outskirts of the Hungarian capital Budapest from 1 - 3 August, the event will be the final one of the first part of the season before a three-week break.
Dr Vijay Mallya, chairman and managing director
Hungary is the last race before a three-week break. Will you be looking for a good result to give the team confidence for the second part of the season?
Of course, we need to keep the momentum going we developed in Germany with the two car finish. We will also be running the seamless shift gearbox in Friday practice, so I think we have to use this as an opportunity to see how it performs in pressurised conditions, then go back to Silverstone, look at the findings and improve for the second part. We need to be reliable and consistent, and continue to progress as we have done with the aerodynamic improvements.
We're now at the mid-season 'break' so to speak. How would you review your first half of a season as a team owner?
It's been every bit as good and as frustrating as I expected it to be. I'm very proud of what this small team has achieved, and how we are pulling together to show some good progress and showings that no one in the field expected us to do. On the other hand there have been challenges, as I knew there would be, and disappointments, but the good far outweighs the bad. I have no regrets at all about becoming involved in the team, and am really looking forward to the second part of the year.
Have you been satisfied with the progress the team has made?
Let's look at the hard facts. We've had a 12th placed finish and a 10th placed finish. We've had double finishes and very competitive races - just look at Monaco. We've raced with teams whose budgets are twice as much as ours, with manufacturer support, and we've finished ahead of them. You can't take this away from us. What I am really pleased about however is the progress that we have made in the times relative to others. I can honestly say that we are the most improved team on the grid: last year we were four seconds off the front and two seconds from the rear of the field; in Germany 2008 we were just one second from the top five. No other team has found two seconds from last year, so clearly this is a reason to be satisfied.
Colin Kolles, team principal
What will the aims for Hungary be this week?
We're under no illusions though that this race will be difficult - we've not performed well in qualifying so far and, with few places to pass on the Hungaroring, it could be a very hard race for us to make up positions if we don't qualify well. So we have to look to the strategy to help us, and try and make the most of qualifying to give ourselves the best possible chances. We need then to have good reliability to get two cars to the finish.
As recent races have shown, Adrian and Giancarlo are now very closely matched for speed. Is this on a par with your expectations?
When we signed Giancarlo we knew he would push Adrian to his limits, and this is exactly what has happened. Adrian needed a good benchmark to develop his potential, and now he has one he's pushing himself a lot harder. Giancarlo has had a couple of difficult events with the balance of the car, but he's been a very positive influence on the team, not just with Adrian, but on everyone - engineers, mechanics and everyone back at the factory - to get the best out of the car so he can really shine.
Mike Gascoyne, chief technical officer
How would you review the team's performance in Germany?
Germany was disappointing in Qualifying, as with both cars we didn't feel like we got the best out of them, but again our race pace was comparatively much better and we were able to race competitively with several of the cars in front. We now have to look to maintain that in Hungary, and hopefully with the introduction of the seamless shift in Valencia, we can move on and certainly be racing with more cars in the midfield.
Will you be using the seamless shift gearbox in Hungary at all?
We had a very successful introduction of the seamless shift gearbox at the test last week in Jerez, with very positive comments from the drivers, and obviously we would like to introduce it as soon as possible. We do however need to accrue more mileage before racing it, but we will run it on the Friday in Hungary. As both gearboxes are three races into their four race cycle, we will use it on the Friday, but we'll race the standard box with the view to introducing the seamless version in Valencia. This solution is therefore a chance to gain more mileage without incurring the penalties of changing a box with one race left, and to make sure we are fully prepared for a race introduction after the summer break.
In Hungary, getting a good qualifying position is crucial, but it seems to be the team's Achilles Heel. What is your feeling on this?
We have struggled in qualifying compared to our race pace, and Hungary is a place where overtaking is very difficult so qualifying is even more important than usual. But let's not forget that we had a very competitive outing in Monaco, which is very similar in set-up to Hungary with maximum downforce and few overtaking opportunities, so we have to look to do this again; have a good strategy and take advantage whenever we can.
'Budapest is a great city, with so many interesting places to see and so much history. The Hungaroring itself is actually a very slow circuit and the race is very tough due to the high ambient temperatures and it's also a difficult track to overtake on, so you have to concentrate on your own race and the strategy, and try to get as good a qualifying position as you can. I've only driven it once in my career, but the 2007 race was good as we showed we were quite competitive with the cars in front of us. We could race Honda, which meant I really had to push and attack every single lap.
'This year we have been very close to the other teams, but F1 is so competitive now that just two tenths is the difference between the back row and the midfield. You just can't afford to make any mistakes any more.'
'I scored my first points in Formula One at the Hungaroring, so for sure this is a really great memory of the event. It's very twisty and challenging, but if you have a good rhythm, it can be a lot of fun. It's always been a circuit where qualifying is important as it's just about impossible to pass on this track. Let's wait and see how the combination of the new aero package helps us this time out.'
Hungarian Grand Prix information
Set just outside the vibrant Hungarian capital city, Budapest, the event is a popular one with the F1 fraternity, but back in 1986, when the first F1 event was held, the race was a pioneering venture into Eastern Europe, which was then under Communist rule.
Much has changed in the city since the first edition, as has the track. Since its inception, the circuit has been extended and repeatedly modified, yet its character has still remained: a high downforce, low-speed, twisty, undulating ride through a dusty landscape. Sand from these outlying lands often blows onto the track, making grip levels low.
This, combined with the event taking place in the height of summer, makes it one of the toughest tracks of the year for drivers and teams.
-credit: force india