Force India team and drivers preview the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the final round of the 21 Rounds 2016 Formula 1 World Championship, at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.
Sergio Perez: “It’s the final race of the year and you really want to close the season with a good result. It’s an exciting time and you need to keep focused on the job even though everyone is already talking about the following season. You want to finish the year well to go on holiday with a sweet taste in your mouth, especially this year when there is so much at stake. Nobody wants to have a bad final race; it’s a pretty nasty feeling! Abu Dhabi is a cool place and the fans we meet come from all over the world. The facilities at the track are impressive and I’ve always liked racing there. It’s a very fast track, with big braking zones and quick changes of direction. You need a car that is very stable at the rear to make the most of the braking zones. Also, having good traction out of the corners can gain you a lot of time. There are some overtaking opportunities and the possibility to go for different strategies usually produces interesting races. Last year’s race was pretty exciting – fighting for the podium against the Ferraris. Even though we fell short, it was a very good race and hopefully we can have another strong weekend after Brazil. You always get a bit nostalgic at the end of the season. You know it’s the last time you’re going to drive your VJM09 and you don’t know what the next season will bring. I want to go into the winter with special memories from the final race.”
Nico Hulkenberg: “The final race of the season is always special, but this year even more so. It will be my final race with the team, so it will be emotional to work with the crew and the other team members for one last time. People move around teams a lot in Formula One, so I know it’s a goodbye and not a farewell. I want to enjoy this last race together and make sure it turns into a celebration: I want us to confirm fourth place in the championship, then we will see a lot of big smiles on everyone’s faces and be proud of what we achieved together. Abu Dhabi is a very cool place. Yas Marina is very modern and the circuit has probably the best facilities of the whole calendar. The track is not bad either and it’s fun to drive. You race into the sunset and it looks really cool when all the lights come on. It’s a unique experience. The pit lane exit is very tricky and one of the most memorable parts of the circuit: you release the pit limiter, accelerate for a second and then you have to brake for the very sharp left hander underneath the track. The wall feels very close and you always hold your breath every time you drive through that narrow exit! It’s a little uncomfortable because as soon as you push harder, you start to slide and it’s very easy to get it wrong. Looking at the track characteristics, Abu Dhabi should suit us really well. We had a few strong results in the last few years and I am confident we can get a good one this time around too. I would love nothing more than to sign off from the team in style.”
Vijay Mallya, team principal: “After scoring well in Brazil, we head to Abu Dhabi on the verge of achieving our best ever finish in the constructors’ championship. There is one final step to take and everyone is determined to get the job done and end the season on a high with a strong result. “The final race is a great opportunity to look back at the work we have done this year. I have always been confident in our team, even when circumstances played against us in the early races and we didn’t get the results our pace deserved. We kept to our plan, trusted our direction and since May we have been on the way up. Monaco was a big turning point and the team has been going from strength to strength since then. Abu Dhabi is the culmination of all our efforts, but there is no room for complacency. Both our drivers have an extra bit of motivation to do well – Checo to cross the 100-point threshold, which would be the first time ever for a Force India driver; Nico to close his Force India adventure on a high. This is a track that brought us some good results in the past and it would be special to end the season in style.”