Q&A with Vijay Mallaya
Force India boss Vijay Mallya is satisfied with the team's performance in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Q: What's your overall verdict on the first race of the season?
VM: "We had a top 10 finish with Adrian (Sutil) despite the fact that he had to make an unscheduled pit stop to change his front wing, which he clipped on the first lap, while later Fisi missed his pit box. It was a very, very good result. Who knows, if these two mistakes had not happened, maybe we would have been in the points. But I'm satisfied, and I've got a lot to look forward to."
Q: Were you pleased with the pace of the cars over the weekend?
VM: "As you've seen in practice, there's not that much of a gap between the McLarens and the Force India cars, so I was not surprised that Fisi was performing well. I think given the fact that this car was designed and built in 120 days, and given the fact that we've had only eight days of testing, which is almost nothing, reliability was the biggest question mark in my mind. I'm very relieved that the cars are reliable. Both finished the race. I think for the first Grand Prix the result isn't that bad, and is very respectable given what we've been through and we can only look forward from here. Now that the reliability question is out of the way, we're going to focus entirely on aerodynamic development and set-up to make the cars more competitive. Both drivers say that the car is more than a significant improvement over last year, and that the mechanical platform is good and the car has a lot of promise. Now it's just a question of the refinements that make the ultimate difference."
Q: Was it fun to see the two of them racing?
VM: "Absolutely! We don't issue team instructions. We enjoy our racing, the drivers enjoy their racing, and I think we did fairly well."
Q: Were you encouraged to see another Mercedes customer team dominate the race?
VM: "I'd like to offer my congratulations to Ross Brawn for a wonderful job done. I know that Ross dumped the 2008 car early on, and has spent almost a year developing the 2009 car, with the benefit of a full-scale wind tunnel and all the other facilities available at Brackley so that car has had a huge amount of technical and financial resources thrown at it. So I wouldn't say that it's fair to compare the Brawn GP car's performance with an independent team. Having said that, I'm very encouraged with what we have achieved. We are significantly better than last year, we have proven our reliability now. It's a question of getting the aerodynamic side right, and we just haven't had the time. Later on this year I would like to see a great improvement in the performance of our cars. Whether it's going to be anywhere near the Brawn GP car or not is something only time will tell. But we certainly have the ability to be in the points."
Q: Are you pleased to welcome your fellow airline boss Sir Richard Branson into F1?
VM: "When I saw Richard I congratulated him. We were in Cape Town together over the New Year, so it's nice to see him here, and good to see a new sponsor coming into F1, particularly when everybody's focussing on the economic doom and gloom."
Q: Finally, any thoughts on the Malaysian GP?
VM: "In terms of aerodynamic upgrades Kuala Lumpur is just too close, there's not very much we can do this week. But by the time we get to Shanghai, certainly we will have made some improvements, and definitely when we get to Barcelona, there will be quite a significant upgrade."
Source - Force India