SAHARA FORCE INDIA CHINESE GRAND PRIX PREVIEW
Q&A with Vijay Mallya
Team Principal, Vijay Mallya, reflects on the opening couple of races ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix.
Vijay, the team was out of luck in Bahrain, but there were some positives…
“Bahrain was a missed opportunity. Two front wing changes in the space of two laps put us on the back foot and prevented us from playing a part in the outcome of the race. It’s disappointing because we know the car has the speed to be right up there fighting for points. So that’s the positive we must focus on as we prepare for the upcoming races.”
What can we expect this weekend in China?
“It feels as though we’ve yet to unleash our true potential this season. Both the races so far have been heavily compromised, either by our own mistakes or outside circumstances, so I’d like to see what we can achieve with a clean, trouble-free race to the flag. When things go to plan, we know we can compete well inside the top ten and I expect everyone in the team to be pushing hard to reverse our recent fortunes.”
Did you enjoy watching the close midfield battle in Bahrain?
“The battle in the middle of the pack is too close to call this season and it means that there’s even more pressure on teams and drivers to deliver, especially in qualifying. It’s going to be very exciting for the fans and that is what we want to see in Formula One.”
Nico on China
Nico Hulkenberg aims to realise the potential of the VJM09 this weekend.
Nico: “When I think of the race in Shanghai I always remember the impressive towers on the main straight and the cool paddock buildings by the lake. It’s definitely a circuit with a special character and its own personality. The city of Shanghai is also a cool place to visit and I enjoy trying real Chinese food and exploring such a different culture. I’m always fascinated by big cities and feeling the buzz of the place.
“The track is also famous for the never-ending turn one. It’s a tricky corner because it’s easy to go in too hot, especially during qualifying, and it’s a corner that eats your tyres. In fact, looking after the tyres is always hard work because turn 13 is another long right-hander that takes even more life out of them. The rest of the lap has a bit of everything from low-speed to high-speed, which makes it challenging to find a balanced set-up.
“My expectations for this weekend are high and, after the disappointment of Bahrain, I hope we can have a clean race in China. There’s good pace in the car and reaching Q3 in Bahrain was proof of that. We had to work very hard with the car set-up to find the sweet spot, but we learned a lot of things that will carry over into this weekend.”
Sergio on China
Sergio Perez hopes for a change of fortunes in Shanghai.
Sergio: “I’ve always enjoyed going to China. Shanghai is an interesting city to explore and you always get huge support from the fans. They always wait outside our hotel every day just to say hello and give us special gifts.
“They did a great job with the track design in Shanghai because there is a good mix of corners. Turn one is what everybody talks about and it’s my favourite part of the lap. It’s such an unusual corner and you have to judge your speed perfectly because you can lose a lot of time if you don’t attack it enough. Then, on the back straight, we always see lots of drag races and it’s a question of who will brake latest going into the hairpin.
“After two disappointing races I want to get my season started properly in Shanghai. The results in Australia and Bahrain could have been so much better, but things just didn’t work out for me. That’s part of racing and I know things will turn around soon. It was a similar situation as the start of last year before my luck started to change. The atmosphere in the team is still upbeat and everybody is pushing to get more performance from the car. We made a good step in Bahrain with the upgrades so we are definitely moving in the right direction.”