Sahara Force India gets ready for this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix, Round 2 of the 2015 Formula 1 world championship, at Sepang.
Vijay Mallya reflects on Melbourne and looks ahead to this weekend’s race in Malaysia, “Starting our season in Melbourne with both cars in the points was the ideal way to open our 2015 account. Those seven points were an important reward for all the hard work of everyone in the team over the winter and give us something to build upon as we head for Malaysia.
“Despite scoring well in Melbourne, we know the VJM08 is only just beginning its development journey and that we need to add performance if we want to finish consistently in the points. There will be some small tweaks this weekend before bigger steps can be made during the European season.
“Malaysia is an interesting track for us. We had a good race there last year with Nico and it’s a track that generates good racing. The hot weather usually plays to our strengths and the risk of rain can add another dimension to the strategy. Hopefully we can capitalise on these elements to be competitive and come away with another strong result.”
Nico on Malaysia: “I am really looking forward to getting back to action in Sepang after a fairly positive start of the season. We knew the VJM08’s reliability was one of our strong points and we were able to play that card well. We didn’t make any mistakes and we had a good strategy, and that helped us capitalise on a day when others ran into trouble. We need to keep our feet on the ground, however, because we know the circumstances in which we got this result and we know the next races will be tough.
“The track in Sepang is quite challenging and is very different compared to Melbourne. The various sectors have unique characteristics: there is a nice variation of high and low-speed corners and two very long straights. You need to balance your setup between top speed and downforce to make the most of your car in each of them. The high temperatures and humidity add to the challenges of this track, and you always have a threat of rain, especially at the start of the race.
“I have spent the week after Melbourne in Indonesia, having a bit of a holiday, but also training and getting used to the climate. It’s always better to stay on the local time zone and I’m feeling in good shape for this weekend.”
Sergio on Malaysia: “Malaysia is a very special place for me. It is where I got my first podium in Formula One, in one of the best races of my career in 2012, so I will always have happy memories about this circuit. The track is really interesting and the three sectors each have their own character. The track is physical but it has some very technical parts as well. You also have some very long straights at the end of the lap that offer a lot of opportunities for overtaking.
“The weather always makes it interesting. When you are racing in Sepang it is something that is always in the back of your mind, because you know a sudden rainstorm can throw up some unexpected strategies and opportunities you can exploit. The heat and the humidity are a big challenge, but as a driver you are prepared for this. You work really hard during the pre-season and every day with your trainer to be at your best in these circumstances, so I know I am ready.
“I am looking forward to going racing again after our first run in Melbourne. We are still learning a lot about the full potential of the VJM08 and every time we hit the track we are going to find some improvements. We are aware of the work needed to make our car more competitive, but we also know it is going to take time. The car feels really promising but it needs development and I look forward to getting some upgrades soon.
“Malaysia is a very beautiful country, but I can’t say I have any favourite spots. You don’t get to see much of a place when you arrive for a race weekend, but sometimes you manage to squeeze in some nice experiences. I heard Kuala Lumpur has a lot of great dining opportunities so I hope to be able to try a few – I really like Asian food!”