The Sahara Force India Formula One Team head to the Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend for round two of the FIA Formula One World Championship following a solid start to their 2016 season after Nico Hulkenberg scored a seventh place finish for the Silverstone based outfit in Australia two weeks ago.
Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez will be hoping that he can get off the mark in terms of points as although the Mexican out-qualified his team mate in the top ten in ninth place for the Australian Grand Prix he finished behind him in 13th place.
Team Principal of Sahara Force India Vijay Mallya was asked ahead of the race:
Vijay, did the team’s performance in Melbourne live up to expectations?
After a race like Melbourne you always come away wondering what might have happened without the red flag, but I think we left Australia with our fair share of points. We had a mix of good and bad fortune, but I think that’s true for quite a few teams. Ahead of the season I said the team’s goal was to qualify and race in the top ten at every race, and we certainly achieved that in Melbourne.
I think that the winter tests had already given us a good indication of what to expect. What is clear is that the grid is more competitive and closer together than it has ever been in the recent past. There are four or five teams who are all performing at a similar level, which made for a tight squabble in qualifying and the race. That can only be good for the fans; it’s what the sport needs and I think Melbourne showed that it’s the middle of the grid where most of the entertainment is being generated in terms of wheel-to-wheel racing.
On paper Bahrain should be a strong track for us so I’m optimistic we can deliver a similar level of performance to that which we showed in Melbourne. We will have some new aerodynamic developments, which will add some performance to the front of the car, so we will work hard to optimise those during the weekend.
We’ve started the season in the right way by getting some points on the board, even though we had the potential to come away from Australia with many more. The red flag came out at the worst possible moment for our strategy and that cost us some positions, but we still managed to fight back and come away with an important seventh place: I am happy with that.“Next up is Bahrain, which is a special place. As a circuit, it’s very different to Melbourne: it’s not bumpy at all; it’s very smooth and it’s full of slow corners. There are a several overtaking spots and the whole track, with long straights and big braking zones, makes for some great wheel-to-wheel racing. It’s a track that rewards attacking, so hopefully we will see lots of action in the race. And of course, it’s a night race so the atmosphere of the whole event is very different!“One of my favourite things about Bahrain is the paddock. It looks like it’s straight out of ‘One Thousand and One Nights’, with the lights and buildings all adding to the atmosphere. It’s one of my favourite events of the season. We will arrive there in a good place and we have the potential to get another strong result.
Australia didn’t bring the result I was hoping for so I am targeting a better outcome from Bahrain. Getting a bad start really compromised my race last time out because I got stuck in the middle of cars on different strategies and I couldn’t recover. However, it’s a long season and I have an opportunity to get back in the points in Bahrain.“The racing is never boring in Bahrain so fans should enjoy some good entertainment. There are long straights and sharp braking zones so it’s great for overtaking, but the big tractions zones make this a tough track for the rear tyres. I think tyre degradation will be a key factor in the outcome of this race. The track evolves a lot as the race goes on, as the cars sweep away all the sand and dust that the wind has blown onto the track.“I have some very good memories from Bahrain – the race in 2014 was just fantastic when I celebrated my first podium with the team. I am confident we can be strong again this year and get back all the points I missed in Australia. Even in Melbourne, there were lots of positives we can build on, such as our strong qualifying speed and race pace. The team is doing a great job back at the factory and we should have some interesting new bits on the car, too, so I am feeling confident.