Adrian, the start of the 2011 season is just over a month away. How excited are you about the year ahead?
I’m genuinely excited about the 2011 season. I just missed out on the top 10 last year in the drivers’ standings – I’m pretty hopeful I can get in there this season! The progress the team has shown over the past two years has been very impressive and what I’ve seen in the factory and at the wind tunnel over the past weeks indicates that the rate will continue this year. I feel very good and confident; the team and I know each other very well and we know how to get the most from each other.
This is your fifth season with this team. Does that make it easier to push to the maximum knowing the team this well?
Definitely. For me, when I feel comfortable I feel good, and when I feel good I perform to my best. I respond a lot better to a positive environment and there certainly is one at Force India as we know what we’re capable of achieving.
Last year the team was challenging for points at most races. Are you confident the team can take a significant step forward and challenge in every race, perhaps even go for podiums in 2011?
Last year we started the season really strongly and I was qualifying in the top ten at most races and regularly scoring points before the summer break, but then the second part of the year was a bit more challenging. We were still developing but the other teams had a quicker development rate, which meant we dropped some points. It’s something we’ve worked really hard to address this year, tieing everything in together with regards the wind tunnel, track work and the design process back in the factory. We’ve got targets to finish at least one spot higher than last year so consistency has got to be key. As for podiums, why not – we should certainly be in the mix at some races.
This year there are several rule changes; KERS, moveable rear wings, bans on F-ducts and so on. What are your thoughts on these introductions?
For a driver it’s going to be quite busy in the cockpit. There’s the KERS to activate, the moveable rear wing and the usual adjustments to engine settings and brake balance. Getting everything right and in the right order will take getting used to, but it’s something we are working on very hard in the simulator. It’s a question of making sure you have the rhythms right and then it just becomes normal. But the first few races will be interesting, even spectacular, as everyone gets used to it.
A new tyre supplier as well for this year – how much difference will that make to drivers?
We’re getting more and more information on the performance of the tyres with each lap and how we need to adjust the set-up. Each compound is quite different to the other so I think we will see tyre strategy coming into play each race. I’m actually looking forward to it as I think the wear rate will make the racing more interesting. Last year Canada was an extraordinary race as nearly every driver managed the race differently.
You’ve got two new team-mates for 2011, do you feel there’s an additional pressure on you to lead the team?
No, we are all treated equally in the team and there’s no ‘lead’ driver so to speak. Information and parts are shared and we all know what we need to do to achieve the results the team wants. We’ve got a very good relationship and I think it’s going to be a very strong partnership.
What do you think the team is capable of achieving in 2011?
We need to be in the points regularly and at times challenging for the podium. I’m really confident we can do it.