Belgian Grand Prix: Force India preview Spa

Nico Hulkenberg leads Sergio Perez

Nico Hulkenberg leads Sergio Perez

Force India preview the Belgian Grand Prix, Round 12 of the 2014 Formula 1 World Championship, at Spa-Francorchamps.

Vijay Mallya looks ahead to the second half of the season.

Three weeks on from Budapest, has the team regrouped following a tough race?
“Until Hungary we had scored points in every race, so I guess we were due to have an unlucky weekend at some stage. I just hope that’s our bad luck over and done with.  At the same time there was a huge opportunity to come away with some significant points so it was a missed opportunity. Both drivers came to me and apologised. Checo was unlucky: the same thing happened to Vettel at the same corner and he got away with it.”

Despite missing points in Budapest, the team still sits fifth in the championship…
“I’m pleased we went into the summer break in fifth place. I think it’s where we deserve to be at this stage of the season. Fourth place is not out of reach either with 38 points covering fourth to sixth place. One race can make all the difference, and the last race, with double points, could prove to be decisive. So we’ll just keep our heads down and focus on every single race and take it as it comes.”

Can you believe it’s almost five years since the team’s first pole and podium at Spa?
“The time has gone quickly, but since then the team has only become stronger. It was a breakthrough moment when people sat up and started to take us seriously. I’m proud of where we are today and I feel there will be some big opportunities in the final eight races for us to show our potential. Spa is a high-speed track so it’s an opportunity for the Mercedes-engined teams, but equally there are other tracks we are looking forward to, such as Singapore.”

Nico Hülkenberg looks forward to the challenge of Spa-Francorchamps.

Are you feeling refreshed after your holidays?
“The summer break was a good opportunity to stay at home in Switzerland and relax. I’m feeling refreshed and ready to get back in the car because three weeks is a long time away from racing.”

How are you approaching the second part of the season?
“I’m feeling upbeat. There’s a lot at stake, but the team is up for the fight. We made the most of our opportunities in the first part of the season and we need to do the same in the final eight races. I expect a close battle in the championship until the end of the season so we need to be consistently picking up good points.”

The Belgian Grand Prix is the next race – how much do you enjoy driving at Spa-Francorchamps?
“It’s an amazing track and one of my favourites – as it probably is for everybody on the grid. There are so many iconic corners, such as Eau Rouge and Pouhon, which feel very special in a Formula One car. For the high and medium speed corners you obviously need downforce, but it’s a trade-off with top speed on the long straights so you need good efficiency.”

Sergio Perez is ready for the Belgian Grand Prix.

What have you been up to during your summer holidays?
“I spent most of my time in Mexico. During the season I don’t manage to go home as often as I would like so it was a good chance to spend time with my family.”

Where better to resume the season than in Spa-Francorchamps?
“I love the track. It has amazing corners, lots of character and history. The racing is always intense because there are a couple of overtaking opportunities, especially in turn five if you get a good run through Eau Rouge. It will be interesting to see how these cars cope with Eau Rouge this year and whether we can still take it flat.”

What do you feel is possible this weekend?
“I’ve never scored points at Spa, so that’s my first target. We also need to put the disappointment of Hungary behind us. Spa is a power track and I think we can perform well there. You also have to expect wet weather at some point so it could be quite unpredictable.”