Force India preview the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend, Round 3 of the 2017 Formula 1 World Championship, in Sakhir.
Vijay Mallya: “Ten points from the opening couple of races is a solid start to our season. We knew this new era of Formula One would provide some huge challenges, but I’m proud of how we have reacted as a team. We’ve taken our chances, ridden our luck at times and shown good reliability. We know where we can improve and where we need to focus our attention, but overall the VJM10 has performed well across two very different circuits in varying weather conditions. I’d like to think we can compete for points again in Bahrain. I expect the development race amongst all the teams will ramp up this weekend, but we will bring some extra performance to the car and hopefully take a step forward.”
Sergio Perez: “I feel pretty happy about the way we have started the year. Eight points from two races is a good achievement and shows that we are working well as a team. I still think a better result was possible in China, but we can’t complain about where we ended up because it wasn’t an easy race considering how cold and wet it was on Sunday.
“Bahrain is always a track I enjoy and I think racing at night has made the event more exciting. I still smile when I remember our podium finish in 2014 – it’s one of my best memories in Formula One. My big battle with Jenson [Button] in 2013 is also something I remember.
“It’s a circuit that always produces good racing and overtaking opportunities. In the past you always had to worry about looking after the rear tyres because there are so many big acceleration zones, but maybe it won’t be such a factor with this year’s tyres.
“With the 2017 regulations the learning curve is very steep. The team is working really hard with the development of the car and we made some progress in China. There are more developments coming this weekend and hopefully we will feel the benefit straight away. It puts extra emphasis on the Friday sessions as we try and understand all the test items and how to get the best performance from them.”
Esteban Ocon: “I feel positive after China and scoring another point. Despite the lack of running on Friday and the disappointment of qualifying, we were able to come back strongly in the race. I still believe we didn’t maximise our opportunities and we have analysed everything that happened and learned what we could have done better. There is a lot on which we can build to get stronger as the season progresses.
“Bahrain is a fantastic track and I’m really looking forward to the first night race of the season. It’s a track I enjoy and I have a good history there – I was on pole position in GP3 in 2015 so I hope to have another strong performance.
“There are many nice parts of the track, but my favourite is the combination of corners at turns five, six and seven: a quick chicane and then the hairpin – a very testing braking zone which you approach at really high speed. It’s not easy to get the right set-up for this part of the lap, but when you do and you drive it perfectly, it’s an awesome feeling.
“Sakhir is a hard circuit for tyres, brakes and engines, with big braking zones and long straights. It’s also testing for the driver because you have to keep hydrated as the weather can get really warm.
“I’m quite pleased that we have races on consecutive weekends. Every time I get in the car, I feel more comfortable with the team and this reflects in the work we produce. At this stage of the season, it’s important to score points whenever there is an opportunity and this remains the goal in Bahrain.”
Sergio Perez’s Race Engineer, Tim Wright, previews the Bahrain Grand Prix, a test for man and machine.
The track in Sakhir provides a harsh test for Formula One cars. Racing at night means it’s no longer as demanding on the cooling system as it used to be in the past, but conditions are still something we have to take into account when setting the car up for our drivers. The circuit can be very windy, as we are not far from the coast and in the open spaces of the desert, and that contributes to unsettling the car and blowing sand on the track, reducing grip. Tyres are a crucial element here – the rough track surface results in one of the highest degradation rates in the season, while the number of slow, high duration corners makes it even harder for the rubber. The slow corners and the long straights mean it’s important to have good traction and plenty of engine power.
Rough track with lots of dust, high degradation
Slow corners and their exit are key for a good laptime