Q and A with Vijay Mallya Vijay Mallya, chairman and managing director of Force India, has reasons to smile these days.
The team reached twelfth position on the starting grid of the Italian Grand Prix, on-track battles have begun with the Honda and Williams teams, and the possibility of rain during Singapore's upcoming night race might present further opportunities.
Mallya answers a few questions regarding this week-end's race, speaks of the good mood within the Force India team, and looks ahead to next year.
With the strong Indian influence in Singapore, are you looking forward to the weekend?
"Absolutely, with the large Indian population and the proximity to India, it's something that we very much look forward to. For the companies that sponsor the car, and others as well, Singapore is going to be a big, big venue. It has rightfully aroused tremendous international interest: it's a new venue, the first night race and a street race, which are always hugely popular. I think it's going to be absolutely spectacular."
The wet street race in Monaco was good for the team. Do you see Singapore as potentially something of a lottery?
"Definitely, it could be a lottery. I've been a resident of Singapore for the last 25 years, and one thing I can tell you is that it rains every night. You don't have to pray for rain, it just comes! People say that rain suits Force India, but rain has the same effect on everybody. It doesn't give a special opportunity for us alone. If it's a challenge for other drivers, it's equally a challenge for our drivers."
How much of a boost was it for the team to reach Q2 in Italy?
"It was a brilliant feeling to have finally achieved one of our targets, and to have done so in difficult conditions. The whole team had a great push just by seeing the car up there in P12. It just goes to show that if you get the strategy right and the drivers are motivated and hungry you can achieve an unexpected result. I would have liked to get into Q2 a little earlier in the season, but it was a superb result all round and you cannot take that away. We worked hard to get it and I was delighted."
Have you seen the team improving over recent races?
"I've been measuring the progress of this team. We need to be more competitive, but 2009 will be the real test. I've always said that we will take baby steps in 2008, such as getting into Q2, and I think we have managed to do that. We are racing now, we are beating the Hondas and the Williams. In 2009 we have no excuses, I know that, and I will make sure that we perform."
At the start of the season you were racing Toro Rosso, and in Italy they won a race. In a way does that give you hope for the future?
"I could not be a happier man. I went to Gerhard Berger and Franz Tost and congratulated them after qualifying, and of course after the race. It was fantastic that F1 proved that the independent teams can win. That's a source of great inspiration for Force India as well, I hope to be in the same position next year."
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