Japanese Grand Prix Preview – Force India
Chairman and Team Principal, Dr. Vijay Mallya, toasts the team’s strong showing in Singapore and sets his sights on more points in Japan.
Dr. Mallya, you have been hoping to get both cars in the points all season. How satisfying was the result in Singapore, especially at such a high profile event?
I’ve been telling everyone at the factory that we need to build a car that can perform on all tracks, and I think they did me proud in Singapore. I can’t thank them enough. We brought both cars home in the points. It should have happened before, but we’ve made a few mistakes. That’s all part of motor racing.
Adrian is known as a Suzuka specialist, but Japan will be a new experience for Paul. What are your hopes for the weekend?
I think Paul had more to learn in Singapore and he did very well. Suzuka should be a whole lot easier for him. For me as a Team Principal, both Adrian and Paul are dear to me, and I back both of them equally. If one has the advantage of experience over the other, it doesn’t mean that the other won’t perform well. I’m sure both of them will give it their best shot.
How do you see the upcoming races?
I’m now looking to the remainder of the season with confidence. I see no reason why we cannot build on the performance we showed in Singapore and get some more excellent results in the final few races. I was focussed on getting ahead of Sauber and securing sixth in the championship. Now I’ve got my sights set on fifth, and I think we can do it, with a bit of luck!
Adrian on Suzuka
As a Suzuka specialist, Adrian looks forward to his favourite track of the year.
Adrian, are you excited about returning to Suzuka?
Yes of course, I love Japan and I’m happy that we can go there after all the tragic events that happened at the start of the year. I think it’s a good sign that we’re going back there. And Suzuka is a great circuit, one that suits me very well. I like it and it’s certainly one of my favourites. But I’m also looking forward to Korea, and of course India! There are some good circuits coming up.
What makes Suzuka so special to you?
It’s a pure driver’s circuit. Some of the corners are outstanding, such as the ‘S’ curves and 130R, which is easily flat. It’s unusual to have so many amazing corners all in the same lap and getting them all right is the best feeling. Also, I spent a year living in Japan when I raced Formula 3, so it always feels like a second home.
Is it fair to say the VJM04 will be the best car you’ve ever had at Suzuka?
I think so. Last year we were strong at the beginning of the season and by the time we got to Suzuka it was not so easy for us. Based on the performance we have shown in the last four races, I think we can go to Japan thinking of scoring more points.
Paul on Suzuka
Paul Di Resta gets set for his first taste of the classic Suzuka circuit.
Paul, you’ve scored points in three of the last four races. You must be in a positive frame of mind going into the final quarter of the season…
I’m feeling very positive. Things have really come together quite well in the middle part of the year and I think we’ve delivered as a team. In Singapore the upgrade package worked as we expected and contributed to the end result. That’s a big credit to the team and we’ve all worked very hard to achieve these recent results.
There is definitely a feeling of momentum with Force India now, but how realistic is it to aim for fifth in the championship?
It’s definitely achievable, but I think it will be a big ask unless we get quite a bit of luck along the way. The key will be getting both cars in the points, but we’ve also seen that Renault look stronger on certain tracks. So we’re aiming at catching them but well aware they still have quite a points advantage.
Are you ready to experience Suzuka? One of the great circuits of the world…
Absolutely. It’s one of those venues that stand out because all the drivers love it and say great things about it. I went there last year – my first visit to Japan – and saw it for myself. Just walking the track makes you respect the place because it’s narrow, fast and has some really unusual corners. It also a technical lap: you can take different lines through some of the corners so there’s a lot for me to learn during Friday practice.
Whyte & Mackay City Guide
Our team partner, Whyte & Mackay, makers of Scotch whisky, give some survival tips for a week in Japan.
Where to visit?
If you have time to kill in Nagoya, it’s worth heading to Sakae, the downtown district of the city just a couple of kilometres from the central train station. There you’ll find entertainment, shopping and dining opportunities.
South of the city centre is one of Japan’s largest ports. Head along to the Garden Pier section, which has been redeveloped as a leisure district and offers an aquarium, amusement park, museums and green space.
Where to stay?
The Marriot in Nagoya comes highly recommended. It has great views over the city and is located right in the heart of the city close to the train station. Both comfortable and stylish it also has various bars, cafes and restaurants within.
For an equally stunning, yet much more tranquil view, head over to the Westin Hotel, which overlooks the breathtaking Nagoya Castle and river. For dining there’s everything from traditional Japanese to modern French cuisine or American steakhouse.
Where to drink?
Bar Barns in Nagoya boasts over 300 whiskies on its menu, so it’s a must visit place for any whisky lover. It also has a good bar menu, which features traditional Nagoya dishes and Italian favourites with a Japanese twist.
Yoshino Bar has a great selection of whiskies available including some rare ones. There’s also a large cocktail menu and a sommelier on hand if you need some help deciding what to choose.
Finally Pub Egeresuya Honten is worth a visit if you want to experience a Japanese take on a traditional English pub.
Meet The Force
Let’s meet the team’s Spares Co-ordinator, Adrian Williams, who joined the Force at the end of 2007.
Sum up your job in three words…
Exciting, hard work and fun!
Biggest challenge of the job?
Making sure we have absolutely everything we need to allow the cars to run – whatever may happen!
What’s the most unusual thing you pack for races?
A defibrillator! We have to carry one to every race and we’re all trained how to use it.
Do you have a team nickname yet and what is its origin?
Yes, I’m known as ‘Brummy’ because I come from Birmingham in England.
What is your best Force India moment?
The best so far was finishing seventh in the championship last year. Hopefully we can top that this year.
Do you have any superstitions?
I do have some set routines, for example I always I put the drivers’ helmets in the garage an hour before the race.
How many spare wings are we taking to Japan?
We will be taking six front wings and five rear wings.
How do you relax away from F1?
I enjoy the gym, riding my motocross bike, watching rugby and taking holidays. I’ve also taken up skiing recently.
Favourite venue on the calendar?
Melbourne: It’s a vibrant city; the people are so friendly and there are loads of places to eat and drink.
If you had one wish, what would it be?
At the risk of sounding like a ‘Miss World’ contestant, I’d have to say that world peace would be nice.