Canadian GP: Force India preview

Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) Force India F1 VJM03 in the garage. Formula One Testing, Day Two, Jerez, Spain, Thursday 11 February 2010.

Vitantonio Liuzzi

Jun.08 (Grand Prix 247) After picking up its seventh points scoring finish in last weekend’s thrilling Turkish Grand Prix the Force India F1 Team is now looking forward to round eight of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Canadian Grand Prix. Making a welcome return to the calendar after a year’s absence, the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve is a challenging mix of long straights and tight hairpins that require a low downforce aero configuration, which should suit the VJM03 well.

Dr Vijay Mallya, chairman and team principal

Adrian was in the points again in Turkey despite not having a perfect weekend. What are your thoughts on the way things went?
Obviously scoring points is always something we are happy about. Seeing the race pace of our car compared to others, I think we’re right up there, racing with the Ferraris and Mercedes, which is a very nice position to be in. It’s positive proof of our improvement and our movement this year. Looking forward to Canada, I firmly believe we’re still in good shape. We have some more development parts coming for this race, including some new aero parts for the low downforce configuration, and we are testing the switchable rear wing (the SRW) further on both cars this weekend. Tonio will also revert back to the chassis used for the first four races as we continue to look into why he’s got the lack of grip. But both the drivers like the track, and on a personal and professional level I’m delighted to be going back there. It’s great for Formula 1 to be back in North America, which has been conspicuous in its absence as it’s such a big market and it opens up new doors for sponsors and marketing activities.

How important is it to stay focussed at this point in the year?
We are fully focussed on the task in hand, which is to score as many points as we can and to regain that fifth position in the championship. We’re not so far away from Renault and there are plenty of opportunities left to rack points up and some circuits that we should really fly on, including Montreal. Any actions we’re taking away from the track won’t affect the team’s focus on sealing our most successful season to date. Our technical team, despite reports, is still very much intact – Mark [Smith] will stay with us until April 2011 and we will, in due course, announce a structure that will take us to the next level of performance. I’m very comfortable with where we are as a team and where we are going. The structure and any off track events are for me to worry about, so the team can get on with doing what they do best at the track.

Adrian Sutil (car 14, VJM03/03)
Adrian, your thoughts on returning to Canada?

I’ve raced in Montreal twice in 2007 and 2008. I’ve not had such a good history there so far but I’m older and more experienced now. The first years I went there I think I was a little impetuous and went for a position that wasn’t there, but I feel there’s a new person going back with more self confidence and understanding. I’m really looking forward to the race as I enjoyed Turkey, it was always challenging and, despite it not being the easiest weekend, we still scored points, which shows we can still do well even when the conditions are tough. I love Montreal and the atmosphere and the track itself is quite a challenge. There isn’t a lot of grip as it isn’t used very much over the year, although it does improve slightly over the weekend. The long straights and hairpins need a low downforce configuration and it feels a bit like a street circuit as well, which I love. It’s still good for racing as you can slipstream into the corners and brake late. To do well there you need a powerful engine and high straightline speed and a low drag car that’s efficient and a good, soft balance over the kerbs. That’s exactly what we’ve got so I’m feeling really good going into this race.

Will you continue to use the SRW on your car in Canada?
The SRW was a development item in Turkey and we didn’t use it on my car in qualifying or the race as we didn’t get enough information on it after the various issues we had in practice. It’s a really good system for me as I can use it without taking my hands off the steering wheel and once we introduce it long-term it will be very easy to use. We saw on Tonio’s car that it gave a big improvement, so if we can use it on my car it will be a real step forward. We will test it some more in Canada and hopefully get some good data together.

You’ve had a good run of points this year, with Turkey being your fourth points scoring position of the year. How much does that have an effect?
I’m feeling relaxed at this point in the season now, more so than I’ve ever felt since coming into F1. I’ve got a good car and a good team of people around me and it’s much nicer to go into a race weekend thinking you can fight for the points. Last year was just the start, we were generally Q2 and hoping to beat a few cars; this year we’re able to get into the top five and even then we’re still looking for more. If you have a good car you’re mentally much stronger, happier and more confident and when you’re happier you drive faster. I think it’s a real achievement for us to be at this stage as we’re still a very small team, one of the smallest on the grid, but we’re still achieving great results. The best thing is also that we still have some more to come in terms of developments. We’re definitely still pushing very hard.

Tonio Liuzzi (car 15, VJM03/01)
Tonio, you’ve seemed a little frustrated with results in recent races. Why is this and what have you done to turn this around?
The last few races have been pretty tough as we’ve been struggling with a general lack of grip that makes it hard for me to give the maximum. Monaco was OK and I thought we had solved the issues so it was quite frustrating in Turkey that I couldn’t make the most of our new development items. We’ve put in some long hours at the factory and found some minor damage on the chassis that we picked up in Monaco. We thought we had fixed it but as a precaution we are switching back to the chassis I used in the first four races. We’ll look at the chassis again back in the factory and see if we can find any other areas we need to address.

What are your thoughts on going back to Canada?
Overall I like the event and I’m pretty fast there, I’ve qualified in the top 12 before and I’ve had some exciting races. If the car behaves well I could be in good shape because I’ve been fast there in the past and we should have an advantage with the new aerodynamic improvements we are bringing to this race. Additionally, we have all the right items to be quick over one lap. We have a good straightline speed and good traction out of the tight corners so we are pretty optimistic that we will go well in Montreal.

What do you think it possible from this race?
I don’t think we lost as much ground to Renault in Turkey as it might have seemed and I think Adrian showed that we still have a top ten package over a full race distance. If I can get the grip I need I hope I’ll be back knocking on the door of Q3 and in the hunt for points. As we’ve seen before Canada is pretty unpredictable and if we are up at the front we could get some really decent points, hopefully another double points finish, which will be good for the team at this stage.

Paul di Resta, test and reserve driver
What have your preparations been for Canada?

I’m not driving this time out in Canada as Adrian and Tonio need some more time in the car. It’s been a couple of years since they’ve driven at the track and, as it’s such a specific track with the low downforce and tight hairpins, they will benefit from some extra track time to refamiliarise themselves. Also we’ve got some more work to do on the SRW. I’m comfortable with sitting out the session as I’ll be back out in Valencia. As usual I’ll be participating in the meetings and walking the track – I’ve never been to Montreal so the experience will be good. During the sessions I sit on the pit wall to listen into the discussions but also to help with spotting and any feedback the team might need. I’m feeling really integrated and even when I’m not driving there’s still plenty I can contribute.