The Sahara Force India Formula One Team head into this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang circuit hoping to extend their lead over Williams in the race for fourth.
The Silverstone based outfit are currently on 112 points just a single point ahead of their fellow Mercedes powered team. Force India took fourth place in the championship following the Singapore Grand Prix last time out which saw Sergio Perez finish the race in eighth place while neither Williams driver was able to score points. Felipe Massa finished the race in 12th while Valtteri Bottas retired from the event.
In a pre race Q&A with the team, Dr Vijay Mallya, Managing Director and Team Principal with Force India was asked:
Vijay, the team was unlucky in Singapore, but did well to score points…
It’s never nice to see one of your cars eliminated on lap one. It becomes even more disappointing when you realise it robbed Nico of a golden opportunity to score some big points. That’s racing – sometimes you have to take the bad luck on the chin. Once Nico was out, it was all down to Checo who made his way from P17 to eighth at the flag. We had to make some quick decisions on the pit wall, but Checo and the team executed the ambitious strategy to perfection. It was a great all-round team performance.
How is the mood in the team with just six races to go…
We are certainly at the ‘business’ end of the season. The morale is high; the drivers are happy and the car is working well. So we feel optimistic, but after nine years as a Team Principal I’m well aware that we cannot take anything for granted. Formula One always throws up surprises and I imagine there will be more twists and turns to come. So I’ve told the team to keep doing the same job we have done all year and to enjoy the challenge ahead of us. Being back in fourth place is important, but it’s being there at the end of the season that counts.
Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez leads the way for Force India in the championship standings. The Mexican is currently in eighth place on 66 points, 20 ahead of his team mate Nico Hulkenberg and speaking ahead of this weekend’s race he stated:
Getting a good result after a difficult weekend, as in Singapore, is a big boost for everyone in the team. It shows we can overcome challenges and that you should never give up.“Kuala Lumpur is a very interesting and busy city. There are many things to do and see so it’s always cool to be there. The weather usually plays a big role in the race and it will be interesting to see how this year’s changes to the calendar affect the weekend, with the race going from April to October.“Sepang is usually a circuit where rain is a certainty rather than a possibility. It’s where I scored my first podium in Formula One, in 2012, thanks to making the most of the weather conditions. Being in a position to fight for the win came as a shock for me as we did not expect it, but the emotions of that day will stay with me forever.“It’s another physical race, with the heat and humidity. The track itself is very long and there are a several technical corners. There are long straights with big braking zones that require precision and the high temperatures take the life out of the tyres quickly, especially the rear ones. We have done well in similar hot conditions this season so hopefully we can be on the pace once again.”
It feels strange to be going to Sepang at the end of the season, but it’s also a nice change to mix up the calendar. It’s one of the hottest events of the year and the temperatures make it quite tough on tyre degradation. The tyres will be important here, managing them throughout the race is crucial and it’s an area we really concentrate on understanding with the engineers.“Coming after Singapore, I hope we will be a bit more acclimatised to the hot weather – it may even feel like a relief after the real oven of Marina Bay! I’d rank these two events as the toughest races of the season from a physical point of view – you really need to be at the peak of you fitness to do well here.“Most of the races I remember in Malaysia have seen crazy weather conditions, in April, with monsoon rain, red flags and aquaplaning everywhere. I am quite curious to see how it will change now that the race is in October. It’s a track where I have scored some good points and where I had a strong race in 2014, so I hope to go there and create some more special memories.