- Australian Grand Prix - Force India preview
'Our goal is simply to try and pick up points at every race'
Paul Di Resta
Paul, after three winter tests you must be keen for the season to finally begin…
Yes, the build-up to Melbourne has been a while coming, but at the same time it doesn't feel like there's been that much testing. In fact, compared to last year, there has been one less test, but it's been a good winter for us in general.
You made your debut at last year's Australian Grand Prix - what memories do you have going back there a year on…
It's a great place to start the season and the fans always get behind the race, so it will be interesting to see how it feels second time around. After a good winter break I'm just looking forward to getting back to the racing.
What are your thoughts on the circuit?
I enjoy the circuit. There's a good balance between high and low speed, plus it's a mixture between a street circuit and a permanent track, and that makes it quite unusual. I think the final sector stands out for me as the most interesting because it's quite tricky and easy to get it wrong. We were strong on street circuits last year, especially Singapore, so hopefully that will continue.
Any idea of the pecking order yet?
I don't think anybody can say they know for sure. All the teams around us look strong and have been consistent in testing, so we just have to wait and see. Also, I think almost every team will have some new parts on their cars so it really is too early to make any judgements. To begin with our goal is simply to try and pick up points at every race.
Nico, you're all set for your first race as a Sahara Force India race driver. How does it feel?
There's a lot of excitement - that's the word I keep using to describe how I'm feeling. And I think it will continue until the Sunday morning in Melbourne when I wake up knowing I will be racing again in a few hours. That's when you feel the buzz and get the feeling of anticipation in your stomach.
Do you feel you are back up to speed after a year away from racing?
The testing has gone pretty well and it's been crucial for helping me get prepared. But I know testing is very different to racing because you don't have the same pressures of a race weekend. I think the true test will be qualifying when you have to deliver right away and you only get one chance.
Is the Australian Grand Prix one of your favourite events on the calendar?
My first race there in 2010 was cut short - only half a lap, but apart from that I have good memories from Melbourne and Australia in general. It's one of those venues with a special atmosphere and the whole city seems so relaxed and friendly. It's definitely up there with races like Monaco and Singapore in terms of the atmosphere and support from the fans.
Will you get some free time to relax in Melbourne?
It's a race where we arrive very early to adapt to the time zone, so I will get a chance to look around the city, do some jogging, cycling and visit places like St Kilda beach. If there's enough time I will try and explore the coast a bit.
Vijay Mallya, team principalAfter the long winter months I think we are all looking forward to the start of the new season. Our testing form has looked competitive, but it's only when we get to the first race that we really get a feel for the pecking order and how well everyone has done over the winter. From our side there is no doubt that Andrew Green and his technical team have done an outstanding job to deliver a well-balanced car. I would even go as far as saying the VJM05 is the best engineered car we have produced and the detail of the design is beautiful. It's a car we believe can help us take another step forward.
Driver-wise I'm extremely excited by our line-up this year. Nico and Paul are both young and hungry, and will ensure we squeeze every last thousandth from the car. There will be some healthy in-house rivalry, too, which will be fascinating to watch, and I believe that we will get better results in the long run by having two drivers pushing each other on. As for Melbourne, it's a city I enjoy visiting immensely and the track has produced some good races over the years. It was in Melbourne that Force India made its debut back in 2008 and it's a good opportunity to reflect on how far we have come in the last five years.
As for expectations, I remain cautious on making predictions, simply because there are so many unknowns. Our analysis suggests that we could see one of the closest grids in years, especially in the upper part of the midfield. Even so, our stated goal remains the same - to see Sahara Force India continue progressing and challenge the established teams that lie ahead of us.