Force India preview the Austrian Grand Prix, Round 8 of the 2014 Formula 1 world championship, at Red Bull Ring;
Vijay’s Vision: Vijay Mallya looks to the returning Austrian Grand Prix with the aim of extending the team’s run of points.
Vijay, a bittersweet result in Canada – talk us through the race…
Let’s not forget that Nico drove a brilliant race to score another ten points, but up until the last lap it looked like being an even sweeter result with both cars very well placed. Sadly it was not meant to be. The car, the team and the drivers performed admirably throughout the whole weekend. The VJM07 was very competitive; we got all the strategy calls right and we were on course for one of our best ever results. The accident for Sergio on the last lap took that away from us, but we should not forget the positives: our tyre management was excellent and we were able to race at the front and challenge for the win. It was one of our strongest races.
Seven races so far and seven finishes in the points – you must be satisfied about the start of the season…
I am very proud of what the team has achieved so far, but by no means are we going to ease off at this point. The development race is not going to stop: we are working hard to bring updates to the car and give our drivers an even better chance to score big results. Of course, we have shown a good level of consistency, being able to score in every race so far, and we want to continue to be able to ruffle a few feathers in the top spots.
Austria is a new experience for most in F1. What do you expect from this race?
The last time F1 raced there, the cars were very different from what they are now, so it is difficult to predict how the pecking order will be. We don’t expect massive surprises, however – cars that have been competitive so far will retain their advantage. The track layout seems likely to be favourable to the characteristics of the VJM07, but the competitive order is very tight and we will need to be performing at our best to come away with a good result.
Driver’s View: Nico Hulkenberg hopes to continue his run of points finishes with a competitive showing in Austria.
Nico, your strong start of the season continued in Montreal…
Yes, we have shown once more to be both competitive and consistent, and to come away with ten points after a very busy race was really positive. I was on a different strategy from everyone else, which meant I was under pressure for most of the afternoon, but I think we were on the fastest strategy for us, even if the early safety car didn’t really help. But everything worked as planned and we came away with a very strong result.
You have scored in every race so far this year; do you see this trend continuing as we enter the summer season?
We are in a very good position to keep scoring points, but we will need to keep our guard up and keep working hard as we did from the start. There will be tracks where we will be stronger and where we can capitalise on the opportunities we have, and tracks that will be more of a challenge. I know what plans the team has for the rest of the season and I see no reason why we cannot keep battling at the level we are at now.
Austria is a completely new track for you, how do you expect to perform there?
Together with Russia, this race is one of the big question marks for everyone this year. The track has some long straights and a few slow corners that should suit us, and we can count on making the most of softer compounds as we did in Canada. When you go to a new track it’s even more important to maximise the practice sessions because there is so much more to learn. The lap is quite short so the gaps between the cars will be minimal and even small mistakes can make a big difference.
Driver’s View: Sergio Perez looks forward to the challenge of a new circuit.
Sergio, are you looking forward to racing in Austria?
I don’t really know what to expect because it’s my first visit to the track, but I’m really looking forward to going there. It’s a circuit that not many people know and so it can give you an opportunity to find a small advantage. You have to learn fast and be ready to adapt. A new circuit is always a bit more of a challenge, but it’s interesting and I like the look of the track layout.
Pirelli is bringing the softest compounds from its range. Will that suit the VJM07?
I’m happy to see these tyres being used and I think it’s the right decision. I also think the layout of the track will work well for our car. Hopefully we will have the opportunity for another strong performance there.
What do you know about Austria? Have you ever visited the country?
Yes, I have been there a couple of times. It is a beautiful country; the people are nice and it’s full of amazing scenery – especially the mountains. It’s also a great place to ski and its F1 heritage is impressive.