Brazilian Grand Prix Preview – Sahara Force India

Vijay’s Vision
Team Principal and Managing Director, Dr. Vijay Mallya, toasts the team’s strong showing in Abu Dhabi and looks ahead to the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Dr. Mallya, you said after Abu Dhabi that sixth place is almost in the bag – have you started celebrating yet?
Absolutely not! I still remember what happened last year when we missed out on sixth place by just one point. We certainly head to Brazil in a very strong position, but I’ve learned that you should never take anything for granted.

You must have been extremely proud of the way the team performed in Abu Dhabi…
We needed to get two cars in the points and beat our direct competitors to get some breathing space in the championship, and that’s exactly what we did. There were some performance upgrades for the car, which worked well, and the drivers did the rest. In the race we split the strategies to cover all the options and we came away with our third double points finish of the season.

What expectations do you have for this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix?
Over the years Interlagos has delivered some spectacular racing action and I have no doubt we will see more of the same this year. It’s a classic race on a calendar that presents plenty of challenges and I’m confident that we can maintain the form we showed in Abu Dhabi. After a long season I would love to sign off the year in style with both my cars in the points.

How would you sum up the season as a whole for Sahara Force India?
I think 2011 has been our most complete season yet. We’ve developed a car that has been strong in all areas and we’ve given some of the bigger teams a run for their money. I’m proud of what we have achieved, which is a testament to the dedication and commitment of all the team members. If we can secure sixth in the championship this weekend, it will be a key milestone in the history of this team because the competitiveness of the Formula One grid is as intense as I can remember.

Adrian on Interlagos
Adrian Sutil sets his sights on more points in the season finale at Interlagos.

Adrian, a strong weekend in Abu Dhabi must have felt very satisfying…
I think P8 and P9 was a great result for us. We did all we could and came away with a result that we were all happy with. I was very close to Michael [Schumacher] for the whole race but our pace was so similar that I could not get in his DRS zone towards the end of the race. It’s good to be in a position to fight with Mercedes and we definitely looked much stronger than in India, which is a good sign for Brazil.

So do you feel you can deliver a similar performance in Brazil?
I think we should be strong in Interlagos, too. In Abu Dhabi we achieved the maximum because the cars ahead of us were too quick, so we have to aim for the same this weekend. Personally I would love to finish ninth in the drivers’ championship and to do that I need to score at least four points.

What memories do you have of racing in Brazil?
It’s always a really special race. The crowd is very loud and they create an amazing atmosphere. Even when you are driving the car you can hear the crowd cheering. As for my results there, I have both good and bad memories. 2009 was great when I qualified third on the grid, but in the race things did not go to plan. In fact, I’ve never had much luck racing in Brazil and I’ve yet to score a point at Interlagos. I really want to change that this year!

Paul on Interlagos
Paul Di Resta gets set for the final race of the year and his first experience of Interlagos.

Paul, we head to Brazil for the season finale – what do you know about the circuit?
To be honest I don’t know a massive amount. I’ve never driven there, although I was there last year as reserve driver. So I’ve seen the place and walked the track, but nothing more. It looks like quite a tricky circuit because it’s undulating and there are some unusual corners. It’s anti-clockwise, too, so that always makes it more physically demanding.

It’s the final race of the year – how will you approach it?
It won’t be any different to any other race. Yes, we have a comfortable gap over Sauber and Toro Rosso in the championship, but we still need to be aggressive and keep pushing. Renault are not too far ahead of us, although catching them will require quite an unusual race and a bit of luck, too. We need to pick up where we left off in Abu Dhabi so that we can hopefully have another double points finish – that would be an excellent way to end the season.

As you look back on your first year of Formula One, what memories will you take from this season?
The year has been incredible and I’ve enjoyed every moment. It’s flown by really quickly and I can’t believe we’re at the last race of the season already. The standout moments for me were my first race in Melbourne and qualifying sixth for my first British Grand Prix. The atmosphere at Silverstone was so special – unlike anything I’ve ever experienced – and that’s something I will always remember.