- Indian Grand Prix - Force India preview
'It will be a very special moment'
Vijay Mallya, team boss:
Dr. Mallya, the big day is almost here, the very first Indian Grand Prix in Delhi. How proud are you to see India host its first race?
"I have been involved in motor racing for over 30 years and it's one of my greatest passions. I brought the first Formula 1 car over to India in the 1980s and it was always a dream of mine to one day see this great nation host a Grand Prix. So this weekend is a very significant moment and I'm extremely proud. It's a major step forward for Indian motorsport and for sport in general in our country. We are all looking forward to it immensely."
Is it fair to say this is the biggest race in the team's history?
"Absolutely. This is a very important weekend for Sahara Force India and we are all determined to be as competitive as possible. I want to savour every moment of what will surely be one of the most spectacular events of the season and the start of a great Formula 1 tradition in India."
What do you think this race will do for the popularity of Formula 1 in India?
"There is already great interest in Formula One in India, but having our own race has created a real buzz and will take the sport to an even wider audience. As soon as the ticket sales were announced, people were clamouring to buy them. Hosting the premier racing series in the world is a great privilege and there is great excitement throughout the country."
Earlier this month you announced the team's partnership with Sahara India Pariwar - what will this mean for the team going forward?
"This is yet another great milestone in the history of this team. The Sahara Group brings fresh investment and Saharasri Subrata Roy Sahara shares my vision to push the development so that we continue to compete effectively with the teams ahead of us. The Sahara Group has played a very important role in the development of sport in India and is an ideal partner to help us achieve greater success in the future."
This weekend you will present the winner of your one from a billion young driver hunt. How pleased are you with the way this programme has progressed?
"I made the decision to begin a driver hunt in India about 18 months ago. It was a massive undertaking to hold open trials in seven cities, but I was delighted by the quality of the drivers who came along to show their skills. Last week the top ten youngsters visited Silverstone to complete their final assessments based on driving talent, fitness and media training. There can only be one winner, but all of them showed dedication and hunger during the trials and can be very proud to have made it so far in the competition. Going forward we have some promising kids who we will support as they try to build careers in motorsport."
Adrian, we're all set for the Indian Grand Prix. How will it feel to race in India?
"It will be a very special moment. I've been with this team since the beginning and seen the progress we have made together, so it's a proud moment to be starting the Indian Grand Prix with the only Indian team. I'm sure sitting on the grid will feel a bit different and I will always remember this race."
What are realistic expectations for the weekend?
"I think based on our recent performances we go to Delhi believing we can score points, and we need to do that to strengthen our position in the championship. We can dream of a podium, but we also have to be realistic. There should be massive support for the team and it would be the icing on the cake if we can give everybody a special result to celebrate."
Because it's a new circuit, does that change your approach?
"Maybe we will run a little bit more than usual, but we know how to cope with new circuits because we had the same situation in Korea last year. With a new track it just takes a bit longer for the grip to come up and you have to do more set-up work than usual. I always enjoy experiencing a new track so I'm looking forward to it."
You know India well from your many visits there - how do you think the Indian fans have embraced the sport?
"Every time I go there Formula 1 seems to become even more popular, and having a race there will add even more interest. I hope this year we will have more fans cheering us than any other team."
Paul Di Resta:
Paul, how excited are you ahead of the very first Indian Grand Prix?
"Obviously this is a massive race for us in a very special place. It's the first race for India, taking Formula 1 to a new culture, and a great opportunity for us to put on a great show for the fans. When you consider what Dr. Mallya has already done by creating an Indian team, this is the next step to really put Formula 1 on the map in India."
What do you know about the track?
"Not a massive amount, to be honest. We did a simulator session last week, but because it's a brand new track there are still a lot of unknowns and question marks about the characteristics of the track. The layout looks interesting and the good thing for me is that it's a new track for everyone to learn. Getting up to speed will be key and the grip will build up throughout the weekend, but as long as we find a good balance by Saturday we should be okay."
What result would make you happy this weekend?
"We will go there and do our maximum. Obviously each race is important because the same number of points are on offer, but there's no denying that a strong result in the team's home race would feel special for all of us. So there will be a lot of attention on us, but we will go there ready to fight and grab some more points."