The Malaysian Grand Prix, the third round of the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship, takes place just one week after the thrilling Australian Grand Prix. The Force India F1 Team is looking forward to this race after another positive weekend of racing action: for the second consecutive event the team made the grade for Q3 and converted the form to points in the race when Tonio Liuzzi picked up seventh position. Adrian Sutil was unfortunate not to finish when he retired with an electrical problem early on, but will be looking to open his points account in Malaysia. Test and reserve driver Paul di Resta will also be back in action in FP1 on Friday, this time replacing Tonio Liuzzi for the 90 minute session.
How would you review the Australian Grand Prix?
Dr Vijay Mallya, chairman and team principal: I've always maintained that the car was competitive, particularly in race pace, and now we expect our cars to be finishing in the top 10 and in the points. Tonio drove exceptionally well and scored points but it was very disappointing about Adrian. Hopefully we'll get to the bottom of it and make sure it doesn't happen in the future. I'm pleased with what we got, although you always think it could have been better. So I'm looking forward to the next race where I'd dearly like to see both cars coming home in the points.
On this current form, what are you now expecting in Malaysia?
VM: I think we have every reason to be confident. The cars are clearly capable of being in the top 10. I just hope we don't have any bad luck in terms of extraordinary events or incidents. If both cars get a good, clean race I think both should be in the points. We're on target.
Unfortunately Australia produced a DNF for you, but the event until that point had been positive. What are your thoughts on the weekend now?
Adrian Sutil: It was obviously disappointing to retire so early on in the race [lap nine]. I started to lose power and under the circumstances retiring the car was really the only thing we could do. It was a bit frustrating as I think it could have been a good race; we were in a good position, I was keeping pace with the leaders and normally in these changeable conditions the car and the team perform well. Until that point the weekend had been quite good. Yet again we got into Q3 and I felt I could even have qualified higher, so that's very positive. It's showing that we're pretty competitive across different tracks and not that far behind the big four so at this point it's very encouraging.
What are your thoughts looking ahead to Malaysia?
AS: Malaysia is always a good event, very tough physically, but there's a variety of corners and also some overtaking spots so it's an event I look forward to. The weather, as we saw last year, always throws up some interesting challenges. This year we don't have to pray for rain as we have done in the past, we can deal with the conditions whatever they are. I really want to get some points on board in this race, I've had two races where I should have scored, so I want to finish the job now.
How have you been preparing for the physical challenges of the Malaysian Grand Prix?
AS: Malaysia is such a tough event with the heat and the humidity. You can lose up to four kilos over the race so fitness and concentration is absolutely key. The night after the Australian Grand Prix I flew straight to Malaysia to acclimatise and I've also spent three days in Langkawi training, doing a lot of running, swimming, sea kayaking and so on, really just getting used to exercise in these type of conditions. I feel really good, very relaxed, and confident in the team and the car now so I can't wait to get back out there.
Points for the second race in a row in Australia! How was the race for you?
Tonio Liuzzi: The car was getting better and better the more the track was drying up. We suffered a lot of understeer at the beginning, but the front wing adjuster was working well, and we were able to tune it a little bit more and get closer to optimum set-up during the race. The final 15 laps were quite hard because Barrichello did a two-stop strategy, and was closing the gap really fast, but I was trying to manage the rear tyres and trying to control the car behind me, and it worked out. I'm obviously really happy as it confirms what I said from the beginning of the year, that I am back and I am ready for big results as long as the car stays together and gives me the possibility. I had a really strong race when I came back in Monza last year, and we are scoring points now. I just want to give back as much as I can to the team because they believed in me.
Where is the pace of the team now relative to the rest of the field?
TL: Unfortunately to match Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren's speed is difficult for us, but the team is working really hard. For us the main competitor at the beginning seemed to be Renault, but now they've made a big step forward. I think it will be our main target to try to catch them in Malaysia to beat them in the championship. For sure it won't be easy because they are a great team and they will develop. But we are working hard back at Silverstone, and working well.
Any thoughts on Malaysia?
TL: I think it will be a very interesting race for us, although it will be really hot and really difficult! But the track should suit more the characteristics of our car, so I think we'll be in an interesting position. I've got to work on my qualifying performance and try and get into Q3 for the first time and then, of course, keep those points coming.