Italian GP: Force India preview

7 September 2010 - The Italian Grand Prix this weekend will be the final race of the European season before the FIA Formula One World Championship embarks on a quintet of flyaway races in Asia and South America. The Force India F1 Team heads to...

7 September 2010 - The Italian Grand Prix this weekend will be the final race of the European season before the FIA Formula One World Championship embarks on a quintet of flyaway races in Asia and South America. The Force India F1 Team heads to this historic event looking to consolidate the form it showed at the previous event in Spa-Francorchamps, where it secured its third double points finish of the 2010 season.

Team Q&A

Dr Vijay Mallya, chairman and team principal
Yet again Spa was a good track for us, ultimately yielding a double points finish for Adrian and Tonio. These points were crucial for us in the constructors' championship, moving us 18 points clear of Williams for sixth, but it also showed that we're back in business for the second part of the season. The pace and the handling were both encouraging and, with similar configuration tracks coming up in Monza, Japan and Brazil, we're hoping that this performance can be replicated.

Of course we know that the on track fights will intensify and it's not going to be easy to consolidate our position but we feel the momentum is with us now. Adrian and Tonio both raced very well and we've been given a real boost by the double points - we needed it after a couple of frustrating weekends before the summer break.

But we're not sitting back based on this performance - we've been doing a lot of work back at the factory on the blown diffuser, and conducted a successful aero test last week to develop further. We will also use a low downforce package to suit the top speeds we reach in Monza, which is a further refinement of the Spa package. We're cautiously optimistic and quietly confident - if it all comes together I would hope we could show a similar level of performance and results to Spa, but there are so many varying factors that you just can't take anything for granted at this stage in the season.

Driver Q&A

Adrian Sutil (car 14, VJM03/03)
Belgium was a great race weeked for us and something we really needed to take us into the second part of the season. It started well in practice, with the car very easy to drive and responding well to changes. It felt quite easy to go out and set quick times so right from the start I believed we were in for a shot of a good finish. Qualifying then went well, we got the weather calls almost exactly right and got back into the top ten for the first time in a few races, which we really needed to do.

It was a pretty exciting race after that and we were always towards the front of the field. Fifth was pretty much the maximum we could do and I was delighted we could hold onto it with the weather changing and then the safety cars. At the end only the championship contenders ahead of us so we can be satisfied.

Based on the speed and handling of the car in Spa I'm now really looking forward to Monza. We don't have the top speed advantage we had last year so it's going to be another close weekend, but we do know that we are amongst the quickest and that gives us a big chance to be in Q3 and then getting in the points. I got a great finish there last year - fourth, my best finish in F1 so far, and to get that again would be amazing. Of course there's a huge championship battle going on ahead of us so getting towards the front isn't going to be easy, but I'm confident, the team has got its momentum back after the double points finish in Spa and we're all going to Italy very optimistic.

Tonio Liuzzi (car 15, VJM03/01)
I was really pleased to get that final point in Belgium: I had to work harder for that one point than almost any other I can remember in my F1 career. It was a really crazy race with the rain and then the battles with the other drivers but I really enjoyed the extra challenge of fighting back through the field. It was very satisfying after a tough weekend.

We had some issues during practice, but as a team we worked together and found a solution just before qualifying. The team did such a good job to work night and day to give me the best possible car they could. Ultimately I believe we could have finished even higher as I got hit by another car early on that damaged my wing and then Vettel ran into me in the last part of the race. Overall though I enjoyed the challenge and the extra pressure mentally, especially when the difference between getting it right and wrong was so small.

Next up I've got my home race in Italy, which is the same race I made my Force India race debut last year. It holds such great memories for me. Going into the race we had just had a fantastic result in Spa so the whole team was on a high, and we knew we had a great car going into Monza. I got the call and of course I was pretty nervous but I tried to build into the weekend and gradually improve. Then in qualifying I got into P7, which was such a fantastic feeling. Unfortunately in the race I had a mechanical problem when I was running in the top six but I really felt that I had done the maximum I could do.

Now this year as always we want to perform, especially after last year. But it's also not just that or because it's my home crowd that I want to do well, I also want to get the result we deserve this season. We have narrowly missed out on really good results for a number of reasons this year, so I want to pull it all together. And if it's at Monza, it's true that it will be even more satisfying. The signs so far are good - the aero test we did showed a big improvement, the car is already strong and we've got a good programme for the race weekend in place.

Paul di Resta, test and reserve driver
I'm looking forward to Monza where I'll be out again in free practice, this time replacing Adrian. It's a special track that will require a very different approach to the other tracks I have driven. It's low downforce, high speed and then heavy braking into the chicanes so it's going to be another experience to put in the book. I've done some work in the simulator in preparation for the run and I'm hoping to get as much out of the session as possible.

Of course the track has a very special atmosphere and while I'm there I'll want to look into the history of it and see some of the old banking and track. With my little bit of Italian ancestry and some of my family still living in the country, hopefully I will feel very at home there.

So it should be an interesting weekend, both professionally and personally. We'll all work together to do as well as we can over the weekend, have the right approach from the start and develop the low downforce package. We showed well in Spa so there's no reason why it shouldn't show again in Monza.

Tonio Liuzzi feature: 'Monza is a wonderful circuit'
It's always special for a driver to race in his home Grand Prix, and since Imola fell off the F1 schedule, Monza has become even more important for any Italian.

This year Force India's Tonio Liuzzi heads to the famous Autodromo as one of only two locals in the field. While veteran Jarno Trulli has a lot of support, Tonio will be the leading Italian contender, as he's the man challenging for a place in the top 10 in both qualifying and the race.

'It's definitely a special occasion to race in front of your own crowd and in front of your friends, because it's the country where you come from,' says Tonio. 'Plus Monza is a wonderful circuit, it's one of the few historical circuits left in the World Championship, along with places like Spa. It has a great feeling, with a great atmosphere, a great crowd, and it's always a special occasion.

'It's one of the races I'm always waiting for most during the year. It's a bit like Monaco for me, because I love the circuit and I love the tough challenge. Monza in a way is a bigger challenge, because you are in front of your crowd as well, and you want to perform particularly well.'

Although he loves the circuit, Tonio did not spend his childhood years standing with the tifosi, watching his heroes. Nor did he race at the track in a junior category at the start of his career. In fact he didn't even Monza until 2003, when he was competing in the F3000 event supporting the Italian GP.

'I never went to watch an F1 race before, so I had never been there. As I've said in the past, when I was karting for me there was just the karting world. I was following F1, because I was a fan of Nigel Mansell, but I didn't see a race live. The first year in F3000 I finished fourth with Coloni, and then in 2004 I had pole and won the race with Arden.'

Tonio competed in the Italian GP for the first time with Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2006.

'I remember a big fight with David Coulthard in the Red Bull during the race. I can remember being on the grass, trying to overtake, but it was good fun and a good fight, although I finished out of the points.'

In fact he finished 14th, while the following year he was 17th, albeit ahead of team mate Sebastian Vettel and a certain Adrian Sutil! In 2008 Tonio had to watch from the sidelines in his role as Force India reserve driver, but he was back last season for his first race in a season and a half.

'I made it into Q3 and I started in seventh place, and I was running fourth in the race and then the driveshaft broke. It was really frustrating, but for me the important thing was to show on my comeback that I was able to race and be competitive.'

Part of what makes Monza so fascinating is that it is unique, and the teams create a special low downforce wing package.

'It's different from all the other circuits because you use such a low level of downforce. You never have a car with such low grip, so you have to get used to it on Friday practice. It's a circuit I really like to race on, because you feel the car really light. It slides in the corners, and you drift with all four wheels.'

The other big challenge is bouncing over the chicane kerbs effectively.

'In a way it's completely different to all the other races. You might think that with six corners it's not such a big deal, but you have to fly over the kerbs, especially into Ascari. You have to understand which way to use the first kerb to put the car to have a good exit. In fact the key in Monza is to have a good exit out of all of the corners, because the straights are so long that you can gain a huge amount of time.

'The positioning into the corners is the key, but flying over the kerbs is not easy, especially if you have a stiff car that bounces you back. There are not many corners, but they are really technical.'

Last year Force India was very competitive at Monza, and Adrian's fourth place still stands as his best result. This year rivals have eaten into the team's straight line speed advantage, thanks mainly to F-Duct technology, but things could be different this weekend.

'I don't think every team will use the F-Duct in Monza, because the level of downforce you use is so little that you're not paying that much for it. We believe that in Monza we will be competitive. Before Spa we knew that everyone had upgraded their cars to a good level of top speed, even though we know our car is really strong on low drag.

'So we knew Spa would be tougher than last year. But for Monza I think we'll be in good shape - maybe not as strong as last year, but still in a position for good points.'

-source: force india

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jarno Trulli , David Coulthard , Nigel Mansell , Paul di Resta , Sebastian Vettel , Adrian Sutil
Teams Force India , Williams