Dr Mallya, it seems like a long time since we were in Hungary, but what was your verdict on that race? "When you look at how the race unfolded, you can see that we suffered with our qualifying performance. It’s very difficult to overtake in Hungary, so I guess we finished pretty much where we started. It was disappointing to miss out on points, but both cars came home ahead of Sauber, our main competitor. We need to spend some more time analyzing what we can do better."
How difficult is it to get everything right this season? "Sitting on the pit wall and listening to the predictions and guesswork on tyres is unbelievable. The most unpredictable part of this season has been the tires and with the high temperatures in Hungary it was always a debate – two stops or three stops. One thing I was pretty sure of was that nobody was going to try a one-stop."
Do you know what to focus on for the rest of the year? "It’s a complete package. It’s the car on the track, and whether it’s the set-up, whether it’s the downforce, whether it’s the tires, at the end of the day the whole thing has to come together as a package. Fundamentally it’s a good car. We just need to put a few more points in our pocket, that’s what’s important."
The team has often performed well at both Spa and Monza, but you’ve always said the car needs to be consistently fast at all types of track… "Spa and Monza are among our favorite races and we’ve done well there in the past. We look forward to doing better in both of them, before the flyaway races start. But yes, the car has to be competitive on every track."
What’s your realistic target for the second half of the season? "We were sixth in the constructors’ championship last year and we had the objective this year of coming fifth. However, the improvement of Lotus has been exceptionally dramatic, so I think to target fifth is probably overreaching our capabilities for this year. We should at least target sixth, where we finished last year, and that means getting ahead of both Sauber and Williams."
Paul Di Resta looks forward to the second half of the season
Paul, you’ve had five weeks to recharge your batteries over the summer break. Do you feel refreshed? "I think the summer break was good for everybody. I spent the time at home, seeing friends, watching the Olympics and keeping up with my training. We’re only half way through the season and the next few months are probably the busiest of the year with lots of fly-away races so it was important to relax and come back fresh."
So you’re ready to get the season back underway? "Spa is a great place to begin the second part of the season. It’s one of the best tracks in the world and it always feels special to go back there. I never had the chance to race there a lot in my junior career so it’s nice to be able to go there and experience such an impressive range of corners in a Formula One car."
What’s the target for the second half of the season? "There’s still a long way to go in the championship and we need to get back to scoring regular points. Last year we ended the season strongly and we need to do the same this year. Williams are not too far ahead of us but Sauber have a big points advantage and it’s going to be a big task to overcome that. But we won’t give up; we’ll keep pushing and see what we can do. We definitely have the potential to get some big results before the end of the year."
Nico Hulkenberg looks back on his summer break and ahead to Spa.
Nico, you’ve spent five weeks away from Formula One. What have you been up to? "I spent a lot of time in Germany and at home, visiting family and friends who I don't get to see very often, which was really nice. I also went to Majorca for a week - we Germans love it there!"
How important was it to recharge your batteries? "It was nice to have a break and cool down a little, but to be honest it has been long enough now and I’m looking forward to getting back to the racing."
With nine races to go, what are your hopes and expectations for the second half of the year? I hope that we can make another step forward and can consistently score good results. We are eighth in the championship right now and clearly we want to make a big effort to improve on that in the coming races.
Looking ahead to Spa, tell us what it feels like to drive a Formula One car there… "Spa is a great track. There’s just such a great flow to the circuit with some mighty corners that are incredible. It’s definitely one of the best places to drive a Formula One car to feel the performance through the high-speed corners. It is one of my favorite tracks."
Source: Sahara Force India Formula One Team