Sahara Force India gets ready for the start of the European season this week in Barcelona: the Spanish Grand Prix, round 5 of the 2015 Formula 1 world championship..
Team Principal, Dr Vijay Mallya, sums up the mood as the team heads to Barcelona: “It’s fair to say that we’ve had mixed fortunes during the opening four races. On the positive side, we’ve scored points in half the races and I’ve been impressed by the fighting spirit of the team. On the other hand, we know the VJM08 is not where we want it to be and that we need to work hard to unlock more of its potential.
“It’s still early days in the season, but it’s worth noting how closely-matched the midfield teams remain. There are times when we see up to ten cars within half a second of each other, which means that any improvements we can bring to the car will have a big impact on our results.
“Our pace has been improving with each race, but we will need to wait a little longer before we can make a big step. I’m optimistic about the updates we have planned and we are working hard to get them to the track as soon as possible. The priority over the next few races is to stay in touch with the teams around us. As it stands, fourth place in the championship is just 12 points ahead of us, so we need to keep fighting hard and picking up points when we can.”
Nico Hulkenberg looks ahead to this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix: “The Barcelona race is one of the best weekends on the calendar. The locals are passionate and there’s always a big crowd on race day, so the atmosphere is great. I always stay in the city centre and I really like the place – plus the food is really good: I love paella.
“We all know the Barcelona track really well. You have to think about how to approach a lap because it’s important to look after your tyres. If you take too much out of them in the first sector, you end up paying the price in the final one, so finding the right balance is the key. The first two sectors are fairly straightforward and they are the quickest sections of the track, while the final part of the lap is more technical and low speed.
“As a whole, there is a nice mix of different corners which makes this a very interesting circuit. Overtaking has always been difficult there, even with the introduction of the slow chicane at the end of the lap. The final corner is still fairly quick and it’s difficult to follow another car closely. You have to lift to avoid running wide, and that usually takes away the opportunity for overtaking into turn one.”
Sergio hopes to build on the momentum of Bahrain as the European season begins: “It’s nice to get to Barcelona following a good result in Bahrain. The last race was definitely a bit of a confidence boost for everyone and we will try to keep up this momentum in Spain. At the same time we expect a more challenging weekend because the characteristics of the circuit are very different to Bahrain with a lot more high-speed corners.
“The weekend in Barcelona is always enjoyable. The city and the people remind me a lot of Mexico, and I really like the Spanish food. The fans also make this race special and I always feel a lot of support from the grandstands.
“As a track, Barcelona is a demanding place to drive a Formula One car, with both fast and slow sections. It’s a big test of the aero package – similar to somewhere like Sepang. Overtaking is never easy because it’s difficult to get really close to another car, so good track position really pays off. The DRS zones have made it a bit easier to overtake, but you still need to be quite a bit faster than the cars you are racing.”