Force India team and drivers preview the Malaysian Grand Prix, Round 15 of the 2017 Formula 1 World Championship, at Sepang.
Vijay Mallya: “Leaving Singapore with 11 points to help consolidate our fourth place in the championship was a very satisfactory outcome from a tricky weekend. It reminds us that even after a tough qualifying session, there is always plenty to fight for on Sunday. We also took a lot of positives from the pace of the VJM10 during the race and it’s clear that we have the potential for some more strong performances in the final six events.
“This weekend is the last visit to Sepang for the foreseeable future and hopefully we can sign-off with some points. It probably won’t be our strongest circuit of the year, but we should be competitive, especially with the updates we continue to bring to the car. The drivers enjoy the quick corners and it’s always been a good track for overtaking and competitive racing. It’s sad to say goodbye to a circuit, but Malaysia can be proud of the events it has staged during the last 19 years and Formula One has always been given an extremely warm welcome by the fans.
“We head to Sepang having recently confirmed Sergio will remain with the team alongside Esteban in 2018. I’m extremely happy with the job both drivers are doing and delighted that we have stability with our line-up. Getting this all finalised relatively early in the year is always helpful. We can simply focus on maximising the final six races and plan effectively for next year.”
Sergio Perez: “Malaysia is a place that means a lot to me. It’s where I got my first ever podium in Formula One, in 2012. After Singapore, it’s another very hot race. I think last year’s was the hottest race I’ve ever experienced during my whole career, so I expect to sweat a lot on Sunday!
“The weather is so unpredictable, you can have a big storm all of a sudden and then it can dry up again in five minutes, because it’s so warm and humid.
“Every year, Malaysia has been a special race because of the heat and the characteristics of the track. I’ll be really sad to see Sepang disappear from the calendar. I hope to see all the Malaysian fans at some other race and I hope they keep following us online.”
Esteban Ocon: “Sepang is such a beautiful track. I really love it. I enjoy chicanes and there are quite a few in Malaysia, with some nice combinations of fast and medium-speed corners. When you have a good car in qualifying, you can just feel the grip; it’s very enjoyable. On the other hand, it’s a very tough race because of the heat and humidity. The rain can play a big part – at least I am told! Last year everyone kept telling me that, but it was just mega sunny and warm all weekend. It’s sad we will be racing here for the last time because it’s such a cool track. I am going to miss it.”
Sahara Force India’s Chief Race Engineer, Tom McCullough, looks ahead the challenge of Sepang: “Malaysia is another race where the weather will be very hot: last year, we had track temperatures up to 60C. The conditions can be very unpredictable and there’s always a chance of rain showers, in particular during the early evening qualifying session at 5pm. In this regard, the conditions are very similar to what we saw in Singapore, with extreme heat and humidity; the main difference being the start time of the race, with the lights going off in the heat of the day at 3pm. The Sepang track features a good mix of low, medium and very high-speed corners, so the set-up needs to accommodate a large speed range. The track was resurfaced prior to the race last year, which improved ride response and reduced tyre degradation. It will be interesting to see how the track surface has evolved since.”