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Monaco GP: Thursday Press Conference

NEWS STORY
24/05/2012

Vijay, first of all welcome, I think this is your first grand prix of the year and you love Monaco. But how do you keep in touch when you're a long way away?
Vijay Mallya: Well you know, particularly at the start of the season there are too many conflicting obligations that I have. Parliament, for one, is in session in March and April and that makes it very difficult for me to leave India. I otherwise would have enjoyed going to flyaway races. But the budget, the union budget, was presented only in the middle of March this year as opposed to the end of February so I was obliged to stay back and attend parliament. Then, of course, in early April starts the IPL (India Premier League) cricket and you know we Indians are pretty passionate about the game of cricket. In fact, I remember I was telling Monisha, that three years ago my team reached the finals of the IPL and I actually had to regretfully abandon the Monaco Grand Prix and fly back on the Saturday night to make the Sunday final. But now it's all over, done and dusted and now I can enjoy Formula One particularly in the summer in Europe and in North America.

How do you thin Sahara Force India is doing at the moment? How do you see the performance so far this year?
VM: We've got 18 points from five races - it's the best start we've ever had. But if you look at our immediate competition, they're way ahead of us. Compliments to them, they've done exceedingly well. I think Sauber has had a second, the podium, and Williams have won the race, so congratulations to both of them. But if I study or try to analyse the various races and the performance of various cares there's a huge sense of unpredictability that has crept in this year. Just as an example: in Barcelona, Nico came tenth, scored one point but kept Webber behind him for more than 30 laps. Up until last year I would never have dreamt of keeping a Red Bull behind me. In Barcelona once again, Lewis actually got pole position before he was given the penalty but Jenson didn't even make Q3. So there's something going on there and the only thing we can put a finger on is the tyres and the performance of the tyres and we're obviously doing all we can to try and understand tyre management better. But I think we can look forward to our moment in the sun as well.

If it's that unpredictable then everyone has got a chance.
VM: Absolutely. The results speak for themselves. There is a definite sense of unpredictability. The usual front-runners aren't front-runners anymore. The midfield teams have in fact outperformed the traditional front-runners. So there is something going on there which I think everybody is trying to understand better.

Jean-Francois, can we first of all clear up the Caterham problem this morning? I believe it was quite an old engine.
Jean-Francois Caubet: Yes, we blew up an engine this morning, with Heikki. There was a problem of reliability but it was quite an old engine. It was engine of more than 2,200km. It was an engine raced in the two first grands prix on the Friday. It was at the limit but sometime before the limit it is difficult to measure, so we know that we have a good engine today but some problem of reliability.

I'm intrigued to learn that you do more work here than for any other grand prix, can you just explain where that's centred?
JFC: Yes, I think even if Monaco is a long grand it is a tough grand prix on the engine side you we must have the maximum job between 15-17,000rpm instead of 17-18,000, so the map is completely different and you need great feedback from the driver to set up the car.

Is there more preparation involved than that?
JFC: Not. I think each grand prix is specific but Monaco is one that is no especially specific against the other.

And now there is the possibility of more teams winning for you as we saw with Williams two weeks ago.
JFC: Yes, congratulations to Frank (Williams) because it was quite emotional in Renault to have this win in Barcelona. I think we found the same spirit with Frank and we're quite happy as we pushed a lot to have a good relationship and a good spirit with all the teams and with Frank we've found the same spirit as we had 20 years ago. It was quite funny because Frank visited us last week and he told us in French… I will try to translate: Une hirondelle ne fait pas printemps, I think it's one swallow doesn't make a summer in English or something like this. But I don't think it's right. I think the car is good and I think they'll probably have some more wins with Frank.

Well, let's ask Frank. How much of a surprise was the performance in Barcelona, or does nothing surprise you any longer?
Frank Williams: That's partly right, but I was surprised. I've been racing long enough to know that you should approach any race with a considerable amount of pessimism and you get better after that. All grand prix teams are immensely professional and very few of them make any mistakes worth talking about during a season so it's hard to prise winners away from winning all the time. But whatever we did right, and I don't really know what that was, worked very fine and I'm just delighted to walk away with all those points and another number one on the scoreboard.

What has it meant to you personally having that win, after so many years?
FW: Yeah, well I thought it was eight years actually but if it was seven that that sounds a little bit better but it's an embarrassing amount of time for a man with a big ego.

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