Bahrain GP: Preview - Force India


After a gruelling Far Eastern double header in Australia and Malaysia, the Force India Formula One Team now travels to the Middle East for the third event of the FIA Formula One World Championship, the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The 5.412km Bahrain International Circuit is located in the Sakhir desert area south of Manama, the capital city of the Kingdom of Bahrain. The Hermann Tilke-designed facility follows the contours of the rolling sand dunes, giving a gently undulating track that combines long straights with tight, narrow corners.

The Force India Formula One Team will be looking to carry forward the strong progress demonstrated in the opening rounds of the championship. At the previous event in Malaysia the team missed out on entering Q2 for the first time in over a season by the narrowest of margins - just 0.05secs - and Giancarlo Fisichella raced competitively for 12th position overall. Thanks to strong work at the team's bases in Silverstone and Brackley, Force India has also improved its average lap time by over two seconds, the biggest improvement of the F1 grid, and now goes to Bahrain hoping to validate these improvements under race conditions and achieve its first double finish of the year.

Dr. Vijay Mallya, chairman and managing director: 'When Force India came into the sport just a few months ago, some observers expected us to stay in the same position and just be happy to be on the grid. These last two races have resolutely shown that we are not just in it for the taking part: we want to race competitively. We have done the maths, we have looked at the statistics and have improved by over two seconds from this time last year. This is not a sign of a team just pleased to be here.

'In Malaysia I was delighted to see Giancarlo fighting for 12th position - not just lucking into it at the end of the race thanks to retirements - he was actually able to race with others and win this position by merit. Formula One has never been so competitive and to be able to do this is a sure sign of progress on our part.

'Adrian has been unlucky not to finish the races so far this year so we have not yet seen how much improvement he has made, however I am sure this will be his chance. We are all looking forward to Bahrain now.'

Colin Kolles, team principal: 'I am particularly looking forward to the Bahrain Grand Prix after such a strong showing in the first two races of the year. Although the results do not ultimately show the full progress we have made, the improvement we demonstrated in Australia and Malaysia from this time last year emphasises the fact we are heading in the right direction.

'Our aims for this race have to be to get into Q2 and achieve a double finish. This is, I believe, a realistic goal as we have new aero parts for this race that should give another improvement and I am confident we have addressed the reliability issues on Adrian's car.

'Giancarlo did a fantastic job in Malaysia and hopefully should be rewarded with a position in Q2 in Bahrain and a good result on Sunday. Adrian was unlucky in the first two races but I am sure that in this next event he will have the opportunity to show his real potential.'

Mike Gascoyne, chief technical officer: 'As part of our aerodynamic programme, we will have several new aerodynamic parts on the front wing and new brake ducts in Bahrain, which should bring a further performance increase. We have also analysed the reasons for Giancarlo's poor start in Malaysia, which was due to a clutch problem. Hopefully this shouldn't happen again as, although he drove fantastically well thereafter, it compromised his race from the outset. We are also analysing the reason for Adrian's retirement and are confident we will not have a reoccurrence of the same problem.

'As we showed in the race in Malaysia we now have a car that can race competitively and, looking at the data from the first two races, it is clear that we have made a big step forward from last season's performance. The most significant reason for this improvement has been aerodynamic as we have made large gains with our own tunnel coming on stream coupled with the continuing use of the Aerolab facility. Now we are really starting to see the results. We were very close to getting into Q2, and hopefully this new step will allow us to get there in Bahrain.'

Adrian Sutil: 'In Bahrain you need to be quite quick in a straight line, and the teams will be quite close together, but I think with the new upgrades we have in Bahrain we will be much closer than ever to the other teams. It's mainly a hairpin circuit, a few quick chicanes but mainly second gear corners, so it should suit us a bit better.

'I think we will be close to reaching second qualifying again. We saw in both Melbourne and Malaysia that Giancarlo was close, and it will be similar again I hope. I feel I've been unlucky in qualifying, and then of course in the race, but I am confident that we won't have the same problem again. I just need to have the opportunity to finish to show what we can really do. We saw in Melbourne that my first lap was very good and the car is more competitive than last year, for sure. I'm looking forward to racing again and getting my first finish of the year.'

Giancarlo Fisichella: 'I enjoy the Bahrain Grand Prix. It is a good track with a long straight that can be very enjoyable if you have a good engine, which we do. There are of course a couple of tricky corners and it is very demanding on brakes, so it proves to be a good challenge.

'My aims will same as in Malaysia: I want to complete the full distance and improve the race pace if we can, although in Sepang our lap times were already pretty competitive. The VJM01 feels well balanced, even if we know there is more to come from it. Hopefully with the new improvements in Bahrain we will be able to investigate some more set up options and should be able to get rid of the understeer that plagued us in Sepang.

'I think we can also try to get into Q2, but this always depends on us getting the perfect lap and maybe one of the others making a mistake - it's very close racing this year, particularly with Toro Rosso and Honda, and I think this battle will continue for the rest of the season.

'In Malaysia we were fighting hard with these two teams and were very close in lap times, especially with Rubens. I think to beat him we need to have a good strategy, but now we know what we have to do, we can look into it in Bahrain. With the race pace we have we can take some risks with the strategies until we know what suits us best. I am looking forward to it.'

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Published: 31/03/2008
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