The Singapore Grand Prix from 25 - 27 September will be the next stop on the F1 calendar for the Force India Formula One Team and the first in a sequence of four flyaway races that culminates with the season finale in Abu Dhabi. The team heads to this event eager to add to its points total following on from its first podium finish in Spa and a fourth place finish at the Italian Grand Prix two weeks ago.
How satisfied were you with the results of the Italian Grand Prix?
Dr Vijay Mallya, chairman and team principal: Overall we are very satisfied that we've proved we are a competitive team and we can race with the best. Spa wasn't a one-off. We still have four races to go, and I'm pretty confident that we'll put on a good show. Japan and Brazil will probably suit the pace of this car, and we have an upgrade coming for Singapore, so let's see how it goes. We have every reason to be pleased about the progress, but there's a still a long way to go.
What did you think of Tonio's performance, bearing in mind he stepped in with no proper testing?
VM: Outstanding. He was hungry, and he really wanted to prove himself. He had 500% commitment. I was impressed and I think we made the right decision because in qualifying and in the race he did very well for us. I have every confidence that he will score points. He's quick and he'll only get better from here.
There's a strong Indian influence in Singapore and you have connections there. Is that a race where you'd like to make an impact?
VM: It would be very nice to perform well in any race where there's a large Indian population. That would go for Abu Dhabi as well for sure, and definitely Singapore. The feedback in India has been absolutely brilliant. There's been a lot of excitement, not just with the number of messages, but in the Indian media. And of course the Force India website has been flooded with messages from all of our fans. It means a lot to them, and they're really proud now.
What will the aims be in Singapore?
VM: I'd hope we could be again in Q3 and racing for points. We have a new upgrade coming, which features some modifications to the bodywork, the diffuser and the front wing. Every upgrade we've introduced so far this year has really given us a step forward so I am hopeful that we will be able to maintain our recent run of form. We do know however that it's going to be tough as Spa and Monza were low downforce tracks and Singapore demands higher levels but we've set the bar high now. We need to keep pushing until the end of the season.
Italy was a great weekend all round for you. How would you review it now?
Adrian Sutil: I went to the race in Monza really determined to do well. I felt like I had missed a chance in Spa and, seeing how good the car was, I thought we could be on for a good finish. All weekend the car performed outstandingly and when it got to qualifying we knew we could do very well. We were a little surprised to be on the front row, but that's what happens when you've got a good team working flat out as a tight unit - you just find that little extra. The race was amazing, it felt so good to be back in the front and finally getting those points.
How did it feel to get points after so long?
AS: I was so happy for myself and for the team. We've been in points-scoring positions before but then never actually got them, so to finally get a points' finish, and a good one, felt like we had got a good reward. It was getting a little frustrating for everyone but now we can really start putting that energy into moving forward. When I visited the factory last week it had made such a big difference to everyone. They were all smiling and even though they worked hard before, it was 110% effort now as they can see how everyone makes a difference.
What will your aims for Singapore be this year?
AS: The track is quite challenging, with lots of corners and changes of direction but it's also quite fast, like a cross between Valencia and Monaco. I enjoy street racing and Singapore has that same feeling so I'm looking forward to it. Last year I didn't have such a great race but this year we are in a very different situation. My goal will be to be focussed from the start of the weekend, do some solid work in practice and qualify well as a good grid position is very important here. For sure it's then to get some more points. I feel we can definitely add to the total.
You had a great weekend in Monza, although sadly it ended in retirement. How would you sum up your feelings about your comeback race?
Tonio Liuzzi: Of course, it was not easy going into the weekend with very little testing, but the support I had from the team and belief from them helped me to feel comfortable. From Friday onwards I didn't want to exaggerate, trying to learn everything about the car in two corners. I think we did the right step forward, lap after lap, run by run. Our target was to get a good Q2 position and then try to score points in the race, or get into the top 10. After that it went so well that we finished seventh in Q3, which was more than expected. And in the race it was awesome. When you come back after over a year and a half anything can happen, but I think we had a really strong race until the point when we stopped.
Do you feel you can improve on your performance this weekend?
TL: I don't think I'm yet at the pace where I was two years ago, when I was completely confident about the car. I think there is still a lot to come. It was a big shame for the team that we couldn't score points in Monza, but I feel happy because fortunately I saw that once the car is fast and competitive I can give a good performance and I can fight with the big guys in the World Championship.
You can probably drive around Monza with your eyes closed, but will things be harder in Singapore?
TL: I don't know about with my eyes closed, as it was only the fourth time I raced at Monza. I started my racing career in Germany, so I didn't do my scholarship in Italy! For sure Singapore will be much tougher. We've been working in the simulator to get to know it better, but it will be a much tougher event. We'll have to see how the car is there because it's a completely different circuit, with really high downforce, so everything can change.
Dominic Harlow, chief engineer: As the only F1 race to run almost all sessions at night Singapore is definitely one of the more demanding and spectacular circuits. The layout is anti-clockwise around the city's waterfront and, because it uses public roads, includes bumps, kerbs, man-hole covers and extreme cambers. It's subject to a lot of improvement and rubbering in, and is very tough for the drivers. The car's cooling system and brakes are worked very hard, and of course the ability to deal with the road undulations is important.
There have been some changes to the circuit since last year's inaugural event, which could change the pitlane time loss and therefore race strategy. Getting a handle on this as well as setting up our car with some revised high downforce aerodynamic components will form part of our programme for the practice sessions.