Q&A with Force India ahead of Fuji race With just three rounds remaining this year, Force India Chief Technical Officer Mike Gascoyne and Team Principal Colin Kolles look back on the season and talk of their hopes as the season reaches its conclusion.
Mike Gascoyne, Chief Technical Officer - From an engineering perspective, what challenges does Fuji present for the team? MG: "Fuji is a unique circuit in having a very, very long straight - the longest on the calendar - but the new part of the circuit is very tight with lots of slow corners so it's very much a balance between getting the straight-line speed without compromising the need for speed on the rest of the circuit. We'll obviously run a compromise set-up as you need a balance of what is going to give you a quick lap time in the slower sections with being able to overtake or defend your position on the straight."
The weather in Japan could be very changeable. The team has shown in previous races it isn't afraid to take a chance. Do you think this could also be an opportunity for the team? MG: "The weather at this time of year can be, as we saw last year, very wet and this did play into our hands in 2007 when Adrian drove a great race in the wet conditions. We will have our normal weather predictions and radars to monitor incoming weather, but it can be very variable. This flexibility is something we will factor into our normal race preparation."
Will there be any new developments for this race, or looking forward to China and Brazil? MG: "We have no real developments planned for the final three races. I think most of the other teams now, going to the flyaway races, will have a pretty standard configuration and will be focusing on next season when the rules will be substantially different. All our engineering effort is now going into 2009."
Just over a year ago, Spyker - Force India's predecessors - scored their first points at this race. How do you think the team has moved forward from this point? MG: "This time last year with Spyker we scored our first point and I think we still hope to do this before the end of the year as Force India. We would be very disappointed not to do that as we have been a much more competitive outfit this year. Formula 1 is just very close now. We have strengthened the engineering side of the team and have invested in the facilities at the factory and at the wind tunnel, so although it's frustrating not to have had better results as a team, we are in a much stronger position than we were this time last year."
Colin Kolles, Team Principal - At this point last year the season was entering its closing stages, but we've still got three races to go now. How do you keep the team's momentum going until the end of the championship? CK: "It does seem like it has been a very long season! Japan was two weeks earlier in 2007 and the last race was the middle of October, so we still have some way to go. All the same, we are working to the end of the season as there are still chances there and I don't think anyone would be satisfied if we didn't get any points on board. Obviously we have to try the maximum to score points. You won't find anyone giving up just yet."
Japan last year was a very special event for the team. What are your memories of this? CK: "It was amazing how something that other teams seem to take for granted - just one point - really lifted morale. Japan was also a special place last year for another reason as we were entering the final stages of due diligence with the Mol and Mallya partnership. This secured the team for the long future, so I have very good memories of this race."
How much do you think the team has progressed since this point? CK: "We have progressed in so many different ways. Commercially, we have a real marketable product and are a viable sponsorship prospect in a huge market. The company is financially in safe waters. In terms of performance, although the package improved, we have not achieved our targets. This makes us even work harder to achieve the targets in the near future."
Where do you think the differences have occurred? CK: "I don't think you can underestimate the value of having security. Everyone involved knows that you can talk long-term, rather than just in six months or even a year and this has really helped us move forward - we can now try and put in place long-term partnerships and plans which are paying off."
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