Interview with Force India’s Vijay Mallya
Although he is keen to witness a double Force India points finish, Team Principal and CEO Vijay Mallya is delighted with the respective points finishes of Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta in the latest German and Hungarian Grands Prix. The Indian shares his opinions as the summer break begins.
For two races in a row Force India has beaten Mercedes, among others, and had the fourth best car at the finish. How pleasing is that?
It’s the result that counts. I’m very encouraged and very happy. Development work through the season is obviously paying off. The car is getting better and more competitive and easier to drive. The drivers are highly motivated and clearly they are putting in their very best. In Germany it was Adrian and in Hungary, Paul.
Are you pleased that the team has been able to keep up its momentum?
We had a slow start to the season, because I think the first few flyaway races were just an extension of our development program, but once we got going from the European season onwards - particularly from Monaco - we’ve improved almost every race. These last few races, where we have qualified in Q3, say it all. To be in the top ten in such a fiercely competitive field is quite remarkable and quite satisfying.
It was a frustrating race for Adrian in Hungary. Was it disappointing to in effect lose one car early on?
It was very wet and Adrian went off into the gravel on the first lap. It’s unfortunate that we seem to be always having bad luck with one of the cars! It will be nice going forward to see both coming home in the points. It was obviously challenging for everybody, with the rain coming and going. We had a great tire strategy in qualifying and of course everything changed on Sunday - under those circumstances it was quite difficult. I don’t think I’ve seen so many pit-stops in a race for a long time.
Paul had endured a run of bad luck, with damaged wings, penalties and problems in the pits. What will it do for him to have finally earned a good result?
It’s a great booster for his confidence, obviously. He’s been seeing Adrian score points while he’s been having a bit of bad luck. As Team Principal I want to see both cars come in the points.
The next race is Spa, where the team had a great weekend in 2009, and traditionally the car is fast. Do you see that continuing, or are the strengths of the package different this year?
It was an absolutely fantastic moment to see the car in pole position in 2009 and Giancarlo Fisichella on the podium, but that car could only go very fast in a straight line and pretty much didn’t do very much else! Now it’s doing everything that’s asked of it, irrespective of the track. I think that’s a better position to be in.
And the VJM04 will still be very good on the straights?
The car is going to be quick, I think. If you look at the maximum sector speeds in the race in Hungary, in S1 Adrian was the quickest and in S3 Paul was the quickest, so this car has pace - but it also has good downforce to handle the corners as well. I’ll be looking forward to Spa and hopefully a strong showing.
Finally, are you pleased that the team can head into the summer break on a high and everyone can take some well-earned rest?
We’re finishing the first part of the season on a very positive note. I think everybody has reason to feel proud and happy and they can have a good break and come back refreshed with renewed energy and ready to score some more points.