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Italian GP: Preview - Force India

NEWS STORY
10/09/2008

Just days after the conclusion of the extraordinary Belgian Grand Prix, the Force India Formula One Team will be back in action for the Italian Grand Prix from 12 - 14 September. The annual speedfest at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, just outside Milan in northern Italy, will mark the conclusion of the European season before the championship embarks on a quartet of flyaway races in the Far East and South America.

As one of the most historic events on the calendar, the Italian Grand Prix holds a special place in the hearts of the F1 fraternity. But it's not just the history that makes Monza so unique: it's the unwavering passion of the Italian fans, the one-off high speed, low downforce configuration and the intimate, gossip-filled atmosphere of the paddock before it loses the comfort of its motorhomes.

As the only team in the paddock to have two Italian drivers, the Force India Formula One Team will have an added spur to perform well this weekend, as Giancarlo Fisichella and test driver Tonio Liuzzi will look to put on a good show in front of their home crowd.

Dr. Vijay Mallya, chairman and managing director: Monza will be almost a year to the day when we entered into the final stages of buying the team and, as such, presents a good opportunity to review how far we have come. When people ask whether I can be satisfied with this progress, honestly I think we have to say yes and no. Yes, because compared to where we were last year, we're clearly more competitive. We are racing teams with far higher budgets than we have, and beating them on occasion. I have two strong, hungry drivers who have delivered, and I have a very solid basis to build on.

No, because if someone says they are happy with being at the back they are clearly lying! I would have liked to be in Q2 by now, and have a few points on the board, but that is a measure of how tough F1 has got this year.

This is the situation we are now in and we have to adapt to this. Monza will be hard for us, but just because it is hard, we cannot stop pushing. Before the end of the year I would really like to get at least one point. It may ultimately be out of our reach, but we can't ever lose sight of the aims.

Colin Kolles, team principal: Monza will be the final race in Europe before we move to the flyaway races and it would be good to get a strong result to set us up for the final push of the year. As always this season, the field is so competitive - and also reliable - that to get points will be very challenging, but this will always be the aim. What we have proved is that we can race with other teams on merit and, if the opportunities are there, we can make the most of them. Like Spa, Monza can present some different conditions throughout the race and we have to be there fighting if anything happens.

Mike Gascoyne, chief technical officer: I think we can go to Monza in fairly good spirits. The team worked well over the last weekend and both drivers can be positive about the end result. Certainly Adrian drove an excellent race to catch the works Hondas and again in the closing stages on the dry tyres in the wet conditions. I think he has again showed how he has matured and can take very controlled risks, which is promising for races where we could get wet conditions such as Singapore, Fuji and Brazil.

It was unfortunate Giancarlo's race was compromised at the start, but he too had a good end to the race, with a good call from him to go to the wets and being able to regain one of his lost laps. In these conditions his experience did help and enabled us to get two cars to the finish.

Looking to Monza this weekend, we need to maintain this step in performance and take advantage of anything the race throws at us. We've had a positive test at the track and both drivers are motivated to do well in the last European race. Our target has got to be to have a strong qualifying and get two cars to the finish, again beating other teams on merit.

Adrian Sutil: I'm feeling very positive about Monza now following the result in Belgium. We worked hard throughout the weekend, first having some strong practice performances and then a good qualifying. For sure it's disappointing when you do what you think is a good lap and then you're only P18, but then again if you've done the best you can and there's been no mistakes, you have to accept it and do what you can in the race.

We certainly did as well as we could have done on Sunday and I was happy with the performance. We had a good set up that allowed me to get past people on the straights, and I could really move through the field and had a great fight with Button.

I think Honda are our closest rivals now, and I think this will be the case in Italy. We had a good test there last week and I think we have a good baseline set-up, we just need to work hard as we have done before and then take advantage of any chances that come our way.

Giancarlo Fisichella: Monza is one of my favourite events on the calendar, partly because it's my home race and the crowd gets behind any of the Italian drivers, but also because it's such a fantastic track. It might look easy, but you have to work hard to have a set-up that allows you the speed on the straights without compromising stability through the chicanes and the curves. Like Spa, it's a real drivers' track and a great challenge.

We had a good test at Monza before Belgium and we have some chances to do well there. Although I'm disappointed with the ultimate result in in Belgium as my race was really over at the start when Nakajima spun in front of me on the first lap, there were some good points. When I was in clean air I could push and do similar lap times to the rest of the field and we managed to make up some time with the call to change to wets very early on.

Now in Monza we have to continue to work hard, try to qualify well and have a clean first lap to be able to take advantage of any conditions ahead. I feel confident and it would be good to be able to have a strong result at home.

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