By Berthold Bouman
Lady Luck hasn’t been on Adrian Sutil’s side lately, as the German retired from two Grands Prix this season, and, to add to his misery, he also lost a lot of points due to several issues during pit stops. Force India is hoping to turn around the German’s back luck, and the Indian outfit is determined to finish both cars in the points this weekend.
Vijay Mallya: Adrian is mentally very strong
Team owner Vijay Mallya is determined to keep his fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship, as he likes to fight with the real big teams. “A strong points finish by Paul di Resta ensured we held on to fifth position in the World Championship, and we look capable of fighting at this level in the races to come. With a little help from Lady Luck, who hasn’t been much on Adrian Sutil’s side lately, we will be able to score points with both cars and firmly establish our position in the championship,” Mallya said ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix.
About Sutil’s bad luck in Spain Mallya commented, “He would have been on course for scoring some big points had it not been for the pit stop problem. His race pace was superb, but things are not going his way at the moment. The good news is that Adrian is mentally very strong and he will deal with it. In the cockpit he’s doing exactly what we expect and that’s why we put him in the car. With 14 races remaining there is plenty of opportunity for Adrian to get the results he deserves.”
Paul di Resta – Photo: Sahara Force India
Paul di Resta: Monaco was a rewarding race for us last year
Paul di Resta finished the Spanish Grand Prix in seventh place, and he is hoping new updates will make the Force India even faster. “Having more time to optimise the car with the upgrades should allow us to extract even more performance from it. Monaco was a rewarding race for us last year and we will try to go there and continue our run of points finishes,” di Resta said.
Asked whether it is possible to hang on to fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship, he commented, “McLaren is a strong team and they will keep improving, but in the races so far we have been fighting them and we’ve often been quicker. Realistically, though, we are doing a great job regularly beating our direct rivals — Sauber, Williams and Toro Rosso. Our strength has been our consistency — we have been performing well in each of the races so far, and we are now looking forward to the Sundays with confidence.”
Adrian Sutil – Photo: Sahara Force India
Adrian Sutil: I believe we can improve certain things to avoid mistakes
Despite the problems, Sutil remains positive, and he is looking forward to the race in Monaco, “Most of the things that happened were out of my control, but still I believe we can improve certain things to avoid mistakes in the future. We as a team have to stay confident and work on solving these small problems. The car is fast and if we have a perfect weekend, which is our aim all the time, I’m sure the podium will come soon.”
Sutil loves the Monaco street track and said, “I’ve always liked street races and Monaco is the best street circuit of them all. There’s no room for even the smallest mistake and that’s why it’s different to other tracks. You have to give the walls so much respect and build up your speed. More than anything it’s a test of your mental strength because you keep your concentration for nearly two hours during the race.”
Force India is currently fifth in the Constructors’ Championship with 32 points, but McLaren is right on their tail and are sixth with 29 points. Paul di Resta is eighth in the Drivers’ Championship, while Sutil, due to his bad luck, is 13th.
• Red Bull Monaco GP Preview
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• Caterham Monaco GP Preview
• Marussia Monaco GP Preview
By Berthold Bouman
Force India are pleased with the best season start they ever had, as they have scored nine points more than last year. But there is no time to rest on their laurels, and the Indian outfit run by Indian entrepreneur Vijay Mallya is determined to keep fighting with the big teams.
Vijay Mallya: We intend to hold our ground
Team owner Mallya commented ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix, “At both the factory and at the track, everyone is working hard to ensure we can build on these good results. We intend to hold our ground and remain in the hunt for points and podiums.”
He was especially satisfied with the results of drivers Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil, “The performances of di Resta confirm just how much he has matured as a driver. He’s delivering consistently every week and we are reaping the rewards of all his hard work.”
About Sutil he said, “Sutil has also shown his speed so far but the luck has not gone his way. The last two races have been very frustrating because he’s been the victim of other drivers’ mistakes. His race pace in Bahrain was remarkable because he was one of the fastest cars on track.”
Force India wants to keep fighting with the big teams – Photo: Sahara Force India
Paul di Resta: Hopefully we can stay fighting with the big teams
Di Resta was pleased with the results so far and said, “It’s important to pick up good points early in the season against our competitors and to be ahead of McLaren after four races is a credit to the team and a nice feeling. Of course we want to be on the podium and it was very close in Bahrain, but I’m sure it will come soon enough.”
About the challenge facing him this weekend he said, “The key is making sure you find the right operating window whatever the conditions because that’s what makes the difference. We need to keep doing what we’re doing, but at the same time we know the return to Europe always sees every team bring more upgrades. Hopefully we can stay fighting with the big teams and keep picking up the points.”
Adrian Sutil – Photo: Sahara Force India
Adrian Sutil: I definitely missed out on a few good points
Indeed, Sutil was in the wrong place at the wrong time, how does he feel about that? I’ve been unlucky with being hit in China and the puncture in Bahrain, and I definitely missed out on a few good points. These things happen all the time in Formula One — sometimes you benefit from them and sometimes it goes against you instead,“ the German said.
But it is time to score good points at the Barcelona circuit, and Sutil commented, “It is important, after three difficult races without points, to finish the race without any incidents. If I do that, I should have the pace to be among the front-runners. I have to do my job, avoid mistakes and hopefully my luck will change.”
Force India is currently fifth in the Constructors’ Championship, three points ahead of McLaren. Di Resta is eighth in the Drivers’ Championship, while Sutil is 12th.
• Red Bull Spanish GP Preview
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• Lotus Spanish GP Preview
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• Force India Spanish GP Preview
• Williams Spanish GP Preview
• Toro Rosso Spanish GP Preview
• Caterham Spanish GP Preview
• Marussia Spanish GP Preview
By Berthold Bouman
The Chinese Grand Prix was partially a disaster for Force India, as Adrian Sutil had to retire after Esteban Gutierrez crashed his Sauber into the back of his car, but Paul di Resta managed to score four points by finishing in eighth place.
Vijay Mallya: Last year we had an excellent result
Team owner Vijay Mallya left China with mixed feelings, and he commented, “The pace of the VJM06 was evident throughout the sessions and we would have been on track to place both Paul and Adrian in the points had it not been for the unfortunate accident with Gutierrez in the opening stages.”
He also praised the pit crew, “We were also very satisfied by the good job done in the pits with a clean and fast final stop helping Paul emerge ahead of Romain Grosjean and Nico Hulkenberg after a race-long battle.”
The Indian is hoping for a bit more luck this weekend, “This track, with its high temperature and smooth surface, has generally suited our car and we hope this will be the case this weekend. With a bit more luck, we will be able to fully exploit the potential of our car and get some more points on the board before the European leg of the season.”
Four points for Paul di Resta in China – Photo: Sahara Force India
Paul di Resta: There is more potential to come
About the race in China the Scot said, “I was stuck in traffic, my tyres were graining and I couldn’t move forward. Fortunately we got ourselves into some clean air after my second pit stop and I think we showed that the potential of the car is very strong. In the end we left China feeling pretty satisfied, knowing that there is more potential to come.”
Di Resta is really looking forward to this weekend, as he thinks the car will be strong there. “We’re back in the hot weather and we were strong in the heat of Malaysia so there are no real worries. Last year the car worked well in Bahrain, which gives us confidence heading into the weekend. We’re back to the medium and hard [tyres], the same as we had in Malaysia, where we were strong.”
Sutil’s race was over quickly last weekend – Photo: Sahara Force India
Adrian Sutil: You need a strong car on the brakes
Sutil, who also collided with his team colleague di Resta before he was forced into retirement by Gutierrez, has no hard feelings. “I had a little incident with Paul early on, but we spoke about it, and there’s no problem. Gutierrez just missed his braking point and crashed into my rear. It’s frustrating, but what can you do? He will learn so there are no hard feelings. Hopefully he will not do it again.”
Asked whether Sakhir is a track he enjoys he answered, “With a good car I like almost every circuit. The track is not one of the most difficult ones, but it has a lot of big braking points, so you need a strong car on the brakes. The heat is very different to China, with very high temperatures, and also there’s a different combination of tyres. It should be better for us there!”
Force India is currently sixth in the Constructors’ Championship, di Resta is tenth. and Sutil 12th in the Drivers’ Championship.
• Red Bull Bahrain GP Preview
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• Sauber Bahrain GP Preview
• Force India Bahrain GP Preview
• Williams Bahrain GP Preview
• Toro Rosso Bahrain GP Preview
• Caterham Bahrain GP Preview
• Marussia Bahrain GP Preview
By Berthold Bouman
Ahead of round three of the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship, Force India is adamant that they have solved the problems with the wheel nuts, which caused the retirement of both cars during the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Vijay Mallya: The VJM06 is a solid contender
Despite the disaster in Malaysia, Team Principal Vijay Mallya is upbeat ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix, “The first two races of 2013 have been an encouraging start to the season. The VJM06 is a solid contender with competitive race pace; we have an excellent pair of drivers and the right technical package in place. Most importantly, the whole team is working together well.”
Asked about the problems with the wheel nuts the Indian said, “We’ve had three weeks to understand what went wrong and have worked hard to fix the root cause of the problem.”
Wheel nut problems have been solved – Photo: Sahara Force India
Mallya is confident they will do well the next two races and he commented, “The next two weekends, with races in China and Bahrain, will put us in a position to see where we really stand in comparison with our rivals. Everyone in the team is looking forward to this challenge and I am confident we will put the disappointment of Malaysia behind us and bring home some big points.”
Paul di Resta: We appear to be in a good position at the moment
Scotsman Paul di Resta is looking forward to the race in Shanghai and commented, “We were unlucky not to get any points in Malaysia, but we can take some positives from the performance we showed on the track. We looked to be one of the fastest cars during the early part of the race. It’s a good sign for the rest of the season.”
Di Resta aims to score points this weekend, but despite the encouraging pace of the VJM06, he thinks it is critical to keep developing the car and he remarked, “It is important not to get carried away and to keep doing our job at each race. We appear to be in a good position at the moment, but no one can say where we will be compared to our rivals after the next two races.”
Adrian Sutil – Photo: Sahara Force India
Adrian Sutil: We need to focus on the performance
Also Adrian Sutil retired from the Malaysian Grand Prix, and he said, “I was running in eighth position before my first stop, but that’s when things started to go wrong in the pits. It’s a shame we had the problem because the car felt very strong, but sometimes these things happen. Now we need to focus on the performance to try and repeat it in China.”
He too, believes the development of the car is the key to success, “We know there are lots of areas where we can improve because we have learned a lot from the first couple of races. The other teams will not stand still so we need to keep pushing hard and keep up this momentum.”
The German pins his hopes on the tyres and said, “We will have a new tyre combination in China — the soft and the medium — and we appear to be quite good at managing our tyres so we need to use that to our advantage.”
Force India is currently fifth in the Constructors’ Championship with 10 points, while Sutil and di Resta are in ninth and tenth place of the Drivers’ Championship.
• Red Bull Chinese GP Preview
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• Marussia Chinese GP Preview
By Berthold Bouman
Triple World Champion Sebastian Vettel was quickest during the third and final practice session for the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang International circuit this morning. The German set a time of 1m36.435s, and was followed by Lewis Hamilton who took second place for Mercedes, while Nico Rosberg was ninth in the second Mercedes.
Adrian Sutil again demonstrated the raw speed of the Force India VJM06, the German was only 0.153s slower than pace-setter Vettel, while Mark Webber in the second Red Bull was fourth.
Kimi Raikkonen was fifth in the Lotus, after completing 19 laps on the Sepang circuit. Romain Grosjean was struggling with his Lotus E21, and didn’t get any further than 14th place this morning.
Sutil again very fast for Force India – Photo: Sahara Force India
Paul di Resta has problems keeping up with team colleague Sutil, he was sixth fastest, but it seems Sutil feels much more comfortable in the Force India than de Scotsman.
Some improvement for McLaren this morning, Jenson Button was seventh, but almost four-tenths of a second off the pace, while Sergio Perez was 12th, almost a second slower than Vettel. McLaren are still working hard to improve the MP4-28, but due to the changing weather conditions the engineers are struggling to understand the car and its dynamics.
Felipe Massa was the fastest Ferrari driver and took eighth place, beating Fernando Alonso who was tenth this morning. Williams are also still struggling to come to grips with the FW35, a little improvement today as Pastor Maldonado was 11th, while Valtteri Bottas was 15th with a lap of 1m39.736s, almost 1.5s slower than the leading Red Bull.
Nico Hulkenberg – Photo: Sauber Motorsport
Sauber are not as fast as they were at the start of 2012, and Nico Hulkenberg was 13th, and his Mexican team colleague Esteban Gutierrez was 16th.
The Toro Rosso duo Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Riccardo took possession of 17th and 18th places this morning. Charles Pic, Jules Bianchi, Giedo van der Garde and Max Chilton completed the list of 22 drivers this morning.
By Berthold Bouman
A great result for Force India last weekend, returnee Adrian Sutil fought with the front-runners while leading the race, but as his super soft tyres wore out more quickly than expected, Sutil had to settle for seventh place, but Force India have shown that they are right on pace at the start of the season, and are of course hoping for more.
Team Principal and Team Owner Vijay Mallya: We must keep progressing
“Last weekend’s race in Melbourne was a great demonstration of how far the team has come lately: to race against the established front-runners on merit shows the quality of our car, of our driver line-up and of the work everyone in the team is producing every day, whether at the factory or at the circuit,” Team Principal Vijay Mallya said.
And the Indian entrepreneur added, “With improved results come increased responsibilities: the whole world of Formula One — our rivals, the media and the fans — now look at Sahara Force India as a competitor for points at every race. It is our duty to sustain this scrutiny by going out every day and performing to our best to keep challenging the top teams in the world.”
Great result for Force India in Australia – Photo: Sahara Force India
But he also issued a warning and said, “The 2013 Championship is just at the beginning, and it is important not to get carried away with enthusiasm: we will need to channel this positive energy into consistently good performances and continue to improve. We are on a good road, and we must all keep progressing.”
Adrian Sutil: If you don’t believe you can win, you’ll never win
German Adrian Sutil was without a doubt the star of the Australian Grand Prix, and asked how it felt to battle with the big teams he said, “We never expected to be leading for such a long time. It was a surprise for everyone and even more of a surprise that we could keep all the cars behind us while doing really competitive lap times. I actually pulled away from Vettel at one stage in the race. I knew the car was fast, I felt good, I felt confident.”
He also feels confident he can be at the front again this weekend, and said, “There are opportunities, and if you believe in it, you can take those chances. If you don’t believe you can win, you will never win. It’s just an approach, I think. It’s important to set your mind. It’s sometimes hard because we are usually in the midfield, but you should always think a step further.”
Paul di Resta: You never know what to expect!
Scotsman Paul di Resta finished eighth in Australia, just three seconds behind Sutil, and thus also bagged his first points of the season. But there’s always room for improvements, di Resta reckons. “We’ve got some things we need to pick up on and we can definitely make some improvements, but we’re in a good place to start the season. Also, we’ve seen already that we can make a stop less than some of our competitors so let’s see if that remains the case in Malaysia.”
About the challenges of the Sepang International Circuit he commented, “You never know what to expect! It could rain, or it could be dry. Temperatures are going to be high, degradation is going to be high, but I think our car is going to suit the warm weather. We’ve had a reasonably strong performance for the last couple of years in Malaysia, so I think we should go there feeling quite optimistic. We have a few days to conquer the jet lag and hopefully be fighting fit.”
• Red Bull Malaysian GP Preview
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• Toro Rosso Malaysian GP Preview
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• Marussia Malaysian GP Preview
By Berthold Bouman
Force India aims to score points during the opening race of the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship, the Australian Grand Prix at the Albert Park Circuit near Melbourne. Force India is pleased to welcome Adrian Sutil back to the team, and were impressed by his pace during testing.
Team Principal Vijay Mallya: VJM06 has shown excellent reliability
It has taken a while, but Team Principal and Team Owner Vijay Mallya decided to take Sutil back. “Over the winter we thought long and hard about the decision, but I’m sure we have made the right choice. Adrian is very quick and has a great history with the team — he has been with us from the very start and is truly part of the family. Everyone was impressed by his performance during winter testing in Barcelona: he was able to deliver great pace right away.”
About the first race of the season Mallya commented, “The VJM06 has shown excellent reliability in winter testing. The rules haven’t changed much from 2012 and everyone in the team is confident we can pick up where we left off at the end of last season. The first race of the season on a track like Melbourne is always a lottery; if any of the front-runners stumble, we will be ready to pounce.”
Adrian Sutil rejoined Force India again – Photo: Sahara Force India
Paul di Resta: Consistency will be very important this year
It will be Paul di Resta’s third season with Force India, and the Scotsman has spent the winter preparing himself for the first race of the season. “I’ve got the same team around me so I think that consistency will be very important this year,” he said.
Like most drivers, di Resta thinks the new Pirellis will play an important role this season, as most teams are struggling to get to grips with the new rubber compounds. “Pirelli have kept us busy with their new 2013 compounds, which appear to be more aggressive than last year. We have stability in the technical office, which helps, and we’ve tried to build more consistency into the car.”
He didn’t want to make any predictions about the strength of Force India’s opponents, but remarked, “We’re as well prepared as we can be, but the first two races in Australia and Malaysia are two of the toughest of the year. The grid seems very closely matched so it’s going to be interesting to see how things shake out in Melbourne.”
Adrian Sutil: This team still feels like ‘home’
Sutil is of course happy to be back with his old team, and the German said, “I am working with my old race engineer [Brad Joyce] and this team still feels like ‘home’. It’s a new beginning; my second chance in Formula One and I intend to make the most of this opportunity.”
Asked which targets he has in mind for this weekend he commented, “It’s difficult to set a goal for this weekend, but my target for the season is to improve on my 2011 performance and aim for some podiums. So we need to start the year well, aim high and take our chances.”
Like his team mate, Sutil is pleased with the handling of the new car, but reckons the tyres are the unknown factor, “I’ve only spent three days in the car during testing, but already I’m feeling very comfortable. It’s very driveable and the balance is good. There is still a lot I need to understand, especially in terms of the tyres, but we’re in a good place already.”
• Red Bull Australian GP Preview
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• Toro Rosso Australian GP Preview
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• Marussia Australian GP Preview
By Berthold Bouman
Teams, drivers and fans are looking forward to the first race of the year: the Australian Grand Prix at the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne. After 12 days of pre-season testing the status quo of the 11 teams is still somewhat nebulous to say the least, some teams, like Red Bull Racing, haven’t shown their trump cards yet, and thus it’s impossible to predict who stands the best chance to win the Australian Grand Prix. In today’s preview: Red Bull Racing, Ferrari, Force India, Williams, Caterham and Marussia.
Red Bull Racing
1. Sebastian Vettel
2. Mark Webber
It’s no secret Red Bull haven’t shown their true pace yet, for the fifth successive season Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber will fight for the honours of the Austrian team, Red Bull certainly didn’t want to take any chances by changing their driver line-up. The eternal question raised when hearing the name Webber, is whether he can keep up with his team mate Vettel, the Australian must have heard it dozens of times, for now, we’ll leave this question unanswered and let Webber’s racing do the talking.
Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel – Photo: Red Bull Racing
Red Bull’s test results were certainly not something to write home about, they also encountered some reliability issues, but Vettel wasn’t too concerned after his last test day in Barcelona. “We’re in good enough shape I think. Overall testing has been good for us and we didn’t have too many problems,” Vettel said.
And he added, “If you sum up all three tests I think all the teams were linked in to what the tyres could do and at times it was extremely difficult to read the set-up changes and find a direction because the tyres were always pretty challenging.”
Webber is of course looking forward to his home Grand Prix, “I think we’ve done well and we have made a step forward. As I’ve said before it’s very difficult to see a real pecking order. We’ve just always been focused on what we have to do and not really looked too hard at anyone else.”
But there are some technical issues which have to be addressed, and Webber added, “We have some work to do, for sure, and we have a few things we need to iron out, but that’s the same for everybody.” And indeed, it must be said, last year Red Bull had a slow start, but as soon as designer Adrian Newey got to grips with the problems, Vettel was unstoppable and after the Italian Grand Prix won four successive races, which in the end, opened the door to winning his third successive World Championship.
3. Fernando Alonso
4. Felipe Massa
Again clemency for Felipe Massa after a disastrous 2012 campaign, Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo signed the Brazilian for yet another year with the Reds, as he didn’t want to disturb the balance within the team by hiring another driver.
Ferrari were poised to not make the same mistake as last year, when they were playing catch-up almost all season long. Despite the many problems, magician Alonso managed to win three races last year, but he feels this season the car will be better than ever. “I’m confident I can start the season with a better car than the one we had in the first few months of last year,” Alonso said.
Felipe Massa testing the F138 at Barcelona – Photo: Ferrari
“It was actually in the early races that we lost decisive points, when we had a car that was only good enough for seventh,” he explained. “Last year was the best year of my career and I was very happy with the performance but I think we will do better because I have prepared better and I am more motivated than last year.”
Asked what he expects from Massa he said, “He and I have always helped one another, day by day and I expect him to always be very close to me in terms of performance: what was not normal was the difference between us over the past two years, but now I don’t think that will be the case. That will be a very positive factor for me and especially for the team.”
Team Principal Stefano Domenicali is adamant Ferrari will be fighting for the title until the very last race. He expects to be on the podium in Melbourne, “Unless someone else has done an exceptional job I’m convinced that Ferrari will be in the battle to the end,” said the Italian. “A podium in Australia would be a good base on which to build the kind of successes we need.”
And he added, “For many reasons, however, Melbourne can be considered an important test bench to establish the state of play. I expect that the teams who finished in the top positions in Sao Paulo will repeat that in Melbourne, probably with a reduced advantage — that’s what we are all hoping for, anyway.”
14. Paul di Resta
15. Adrian Sutil
Adrian Sutil must be the happiest driver on the start grid of the Australian Grand Prix, he returned to his former team after his legal problems with Genii CEO Eric Lux after a bar fight in Shanghai, China. “I’m delighted to be back in Formula One, especially with a team I know so well,” said the German.
Paul di Resta, overlooked by the big teams – Photo: Force India
“Having been away from the sport, I’m even more determined to achieve my goals in Formula One. Things went really well at the Barcelona test last week and it almost feels as though I’ve never been away.”
Paul di Resta’s job was never in doubt, and he is aiming for a podium position this season. He strongly feels he has been ‘overlooked’ by the big teams, and is determined to show what he’s worth. “I certainly want a podium and then I want to be on it again. That’s the target.”
“But”, he said, “I don’t want to luck-in to a podium. For me it has to be a well-earned top-three finish, one which we can build on. We need to do it on merit, and I certainly believe it’s achievable.” And he added, “If we can do that, then we can push for podiums and, hopefully, move from seventh in the constructors’ championship to fifth. That’s the team goal, and it’s one I believe we can achieve together.”
16. Pastor Maldonado
17. Valtteri Bottas
Williams were the surprise of 2012, after years of misery and mishaps, the team led by Sir Frank Williams, won the Spanish Grand Prix after Pastor Maldonado qualified in second place and outsmarted Alonso during the race. A victory after eight lean years, and Sir Frank was of course happy with his Venezuelan driver, but he was less happy with the performance of Bruno Senna, who was dumped in favour of Valtteri Bottas.
Valtteri Bottas – Photo: Williams
But Maldonado has no doubts he can win another race for Williams. In an interview with ESPN he said, “We are fighting with mega teams and maybe we don’t have everything to be winning the championships, but I think we are going to win some races and we can be very competitive. I don’t know if we can be at a very high level all through the year, but we are doing our best with the tools we have in the factory to do a good car.”
Rookie Bottas is ready for the first Formula One race of his career, “It feels incredible to be driving in Formula One and to be with a team like Williams, with all its pedigree, is even more special. I’ve worked hard to get here ever since I started karting at six years old, but the real work starts now as I prepare myself for the biggest challenge of my career.”
After the final test day he said, “Overall, it has been a productive winter test and I’ve achieved what I wanted to from it. The car has been really reliable and now I feel fully prepared for the start of the season.”
20. Charles Pic
21. Giedo van der Garde
Caterham took a gamble this season by signing rookie Giedo van der Garde, while the experienced Heikki Kovalainen was ousted in favour of Charles Pic, who will start his second full Formula One season after his rookie season with Marussia. Both drivers were successful in the GP2 feeder series, but Formula One is of course something quite different.
Rookie Giedo van der Garde – Photo: Caterham F1
Pic said after the recent test days at Jerez and Barcelona, “It was also important to use the tests to familiarise myself with the whole team. I’ve really enjoyed working with everyone — there’s a good atmosphere inside the team and we’re realistic about what we can achieve this year so we’ll go into the season with a good spirit and aim to take advantage of anything that comes our way when the races start.”
Dutchman van der Garde saw his dream finally come true, “I know I am ready to take the step up to Formula One and all the work I have done throughout my career, and particularly in the last year with this team, has brought me to my ultimate goal.”
Team principal Cyril Abiteboul, who took over from Tony Fernandes, will no longer be satisfied with tenth place in the Constructors’ Championship, “We can’t satisfy ourselves anymore by being the best of the new teams,” he said. “I think we need to be doing better than that and we need to demonstrate that we can be doing better than that.”
22. Jules Bianchi
23. Max Chilton
Marussia originally signed Brazilian Luiz Razia, but his contract was shredded after his Brazilian sponsors let him down, and Marussia signed Jules Bianchi instead. Marussia was clear about the 2013 season: they had to hire to pay drivers to survive, and that was the reason why Timo Glock suddenly left the team.
Max Chilton – Photo: Marussia F
Team Principal John Booth said about the 2013 season, “We embark on the first real test of 2013 feeling very positive about our new car — the MR02 — and what lies ahead in this next important chapter in the development of the Marussia F1 Team.”
“The incremental steps we were taking in the latter half of last season gave us the confidence to not only fight hard for 10th place in the Constructors’ Championship, but to feel encouraged by our overall design direction.” And Marussia have already made progress during testing, it seems they are faster than Caterham this year, much to the delight of Booth.
“Overall I think we have achieved as much preparation as possible to take us into the opening race in Melbourne. Max [Chilton] has a bit of everything under his belt after so much time in the car across a variety of conditions and set-ups. Jules [Bianchi] has done a good job in the limited amount of time he has had in the MR02. I’m not sure we could have asked any more of either of them.”
Tomorrow part 2: McLaren, Mercedes, Lotus, Sauber and Toro Rosso
By Berthold Bouman
Lewis Hamilton set the fastest time on the penultimate day of pre-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain today, the Mercedes driver set a time of 1m20.558s, the fastest time of the week, thanks to a dry and sunny Barcelona circuit.
Hamilton was pleased to finally be able to test on a dry track today, and he commented after his final day of testing, “The reliability, the mileage and the step-by-step improvements that we have achieved during the three tests are all very encouraging. Whilst we’ve been focusing on our own performance, we definitely haven’t seen the full potential of our competitors yet, so it’s difficult to predict where we might be.”
Felipe Massa was second fastest today for Ferrari, but seven-tenths of a second slower than Hamilton. In the morning Ferrari tested ‘aerodynamic components over short distances’, and in the afternoon Massa practiced pit stops, but the day came to a premature end after a ‘problem with the left front upright’, as Ferrari described it.
Felipe Massa was second-fastest today at Barcelona – Photo: Ferrari
Adrian Sutil was again in the Force India VJM06 and took possession of third place, but he was a full second slower than the pace-setter. Thanks to the weather gods, Force India was able to carry out their complete test programme to prepare for the first race of the season in two weeks time.
Sutil said, “There was a lot of pit stop practice throughout the day and it’s good that we managed to do a race distance without any disruptions. It was less windy today, which made things easier, and the higher temperatures helped give us ideal testing conditions for understanding the tyres and the degradation.”
Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas shared testing duties for Williams today, Maldonado finished in fourth, and Bottas in fifth place today. Williams were one of the teams who already tested an upgrade package for Melbourne and Technical Director Mike Coughlan said, “We brought our updated core bodywork for the first race here this weekend.”
“Pastor spent the morning doing system checks with it before Valtteri went through new sets of each compound tyre this afternoon. Tomorrow we aim to do more performance runs with some further upgrades ahead of Australia.”
Esteban Gutierrez was again fast in the new Sauber, he recorded a time of 1m22.533s after completing 99 laps, good for sixth place on today’s time sheets. He, too, was happy with the sunny weather today in Spain, Sauber did a qualifying and race simulation today.
“It gave me the opportunity to see how the car feels in qualifying and race conditions. The understanding of the tyres was a very important point, especially here in Barcelona where we know graining of the front tyres is a big issue. However, we were able to manage the degradation of the tyres quite well,” Gutierrez later commented.
Mark Webber – Photo: Red Bull Racing
Mark Webber was only 0.105s slower than the Mexican in the Red Bull RB9, and he said, “We had a few small issues with the car today which delayed us a couple of times and while it wasn’t ideal I think we still learned plenty.”
“In terms of the overall feeling at the end of my spell of testing, I think we’ve done well and we have made a step forward. As I’ve said before it’s very difficult to see a real pecking order. We’ve just always been focused on what we have to do and not really looked too hard at anyone else.”
Again, a bit further down the order, was Sergio Perez who took over from Jenson Button for McLaren today, a bit of a disappointment as the second Mexican driver in Formula One was over two seconds slower than Hamilton. As usual, no official comments from the McLaren drivers, the team reported in a press release they tested ‘different mechanical set-ups’ in the morning, and did ‘long runs’ and ‘live pit stop practice’ in the afternoon.
Jean-Eric Vergne was in the car for Toro Rosso today, he was ninth after completing 114 laps, Toro Rosso also did qualifying and race simulations today. “We can ignore the lap times, because, unlike some other teams we did not do a qualifying simulation. However, our race simulation this afternoon went well,” said Vergne.
Some extra time in the car for Romain Grosjean, as Kimi Raikkonen called in sick today. The Frenchman was tenth, just a few thousandths of a second faster than Lotus reserve driver Davide Valsecchi, who also got an unexpected opportunity due to Raikkonen’s illness, who reportedly suffered from a food poisoning.
Iceman Raikkonen called in sick today – Photo: Lotus F1
Lotus also tested new parts for Melbourne and Director of Trackside Operations Alain Permane reported, “Despite the disrupted running, we still completed a Grand Prix distance worth of laps and were able to put valuable miles on our latest rear wing concept as well as evaluating a new front wing. Both look to be a step in the right direction so it’s likely we’ll use them in Australia.”
Jules Bianchi, who joined the Marussia team yesterday after Luiz Razia was ousted, was in the MR02 for the first time, but was at least faster than, also rookie, Giedo van der Garde, who was 13th and last today for Caterham.
Van der Garde, who put 126 laps on the board today, commented about his last test day, “We took full advantage of the weather today, running through the final tyre and setup evaluations this morning and then running a full race simulation after lunch. We only had one minor issue with the car this morning, but apart from that it ran well all day and it was good to get a full race distance done, both for me and the whole team.”
Barcelona testing Day 3 – March 2
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps 1. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m20.558 117 2. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m21.266 + 0.708 94 3. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m21.627 + 1.069 109 4. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m22.305 + 1.747 34 5. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m22.468 + 1.910 31 6. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1m22.553 + 1.995 99 7. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m22.658 + 2.100 59 8. Sergio Perez McLaren 1m22.694 + 2.136 101 9. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m23.223 + 2.665 114 10. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m23.380 + 2.822 46 11. Davide Valsecchi Lotus 1m23.448 + 2.890 16 12. Jules Bianchi Marussia 1m24.028 + 3.470 74 13. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1m24.235 + 3.677 126
By Berthold Bouman
In a statement issued today, Marussia have confirmed that they have terminated Luiz Razia’s contract, and appointed Jules Bianchi, who was in contention for a race seat at Force India, as second driver to race alongside Briton Max Chilton this season.
Not an entirely unexpected move, as Razia reportedly failed to get the money promised by his sponsors, and Marussia had no other option than to replace him. Bianchi will start testing with immediate effect, and will be driving the Marussia MR02 during the last two test days at Barcelona this weekend.
Team Principal John Booth said, “Jules is a proven talent who is highly regarded within the Paddock. He has been on a clear trajectory towards Formula One and has achieved some impressive performances through the various feeder formulae, notably his 2012 season in Formula Renault 3.5 when he was also reserve driver for Force India.”
About terminating Razia’s contract Booth remarked, “We have found ourselves in a situation where we have had to terminate our contract with Luiz Razia. Having made clear the basis on which we must operate in 2013, and given the steps we had taken to put that new structure in place, we had no alternative but to remain true to the principles which we had identified as being key to securing our long-term future.”
Bianchi will start testing tomorrow and Booth said, “Jules can now look forward to a very swift initiation into the team over the course of the next two days here in Barcelona, when he is expected to run for one and a half days to afford both our drivers some dry running with the latest aero specification.”
Bianchi, who lost the race for a seat at Force India, was thrilled with this new chance, “Racing in Formula One this season has been my goal over the winter and after evaluating a number of options I am very excited to have this opportunity to demonstrate that I am ready for this next step in my racing career.”
And the 23-year old driver added, “The next two weeks of preparation for the season will be incredibly busy but I am ready to get started tomorrow with my first day in the MR02.”
By Berthold Bouman
Adrian Sutil rejoins Force India to complete the team’s 2013 driver line-up, Sutil was ousted from the same team in 2011 after the German driver was convicted for assaulting Genii Capital CEO Eric Lux in a bar in Shanghai following the 2011 Chinese Grand Prix. Sutil received an 18-month suspended prison sentence and had to pay a 200,000 Euro fine.
Sutil and Force India’s reserve driver Jules Bianchi diced for the last available 2013 Formula One race seat last week during testing in Barcelona, today it was announced Sutil will join Paul di Resta to complete Force India’s 2013 driver line-up.
Sutil, who drove for Force India since 2007, then known as the Spyker Formula One team, until 2011, does know the team very well and was of course pleased to make a return to the sport.
“I’m delighted to be back in Formula One, especially with a team I know so well. I’m very happy and I want to thank Sahara Force India for giving me a second chance. Having been away from the sport, I’m even more determined to achieve my goals in Formula One” said the 30-year old driver in a statement today.
Sutil back at Force India – Photo: Force India
About his test last week he said, “Things went really well at the Barcelona test last week and it almost feels as though I’ve never been away. Driving the car felt so natural and I was able to get back in the groove quickly and find the limit.” And he added, “Now my focus is on making the most of the final test session this week, working with the team in the simulator and getting myself in the best possible shape for Melbourne.”
Team owner Vijay Mallya acknowledged it had not been an easy decision. “The decision over our driver line-up has not been an easy one and we have given it great consideration over the last few months. It was a close call, but ultimately we felt that Adrian’s experience and historic links to the team gave him the edge, and will provide us with the best possible chance of realising our ambitions for the coming season,” said the Indian.
He’s also adamant Sutil is the right man for the job, “If he can rediscover the exceptional form he showed in the second half of 2011, I’m confident that we can pick up where we left off at the end of 2012. As for Jules Bianchi, he has impressed us enormously with his speed and work ethic, and I’m hopeful we can continue working with him this year to help him develop into a future Grand Prix driver.”
Sutil will be driving the Force India VJM06 on Saturday and Sunday this week during the last pre-season testing days at the circuit de Catalunya. The Formula One season will officially kick off on March 17 in Melbourne, Australia.
By Berthold Bouman
Kimi Raikkonen was fastest in the Lotus E21 during the final pre-season testing day at Jerez today with a lap of 1m18.148. Felipe Massa was fastest overall after four days of testing at the Spanish circuit, as he was fastest yesterday with a lap of 1m17.879.
Raikkonen was optimistic about the progress he had made today, “We’re at the top of the timing monitors, but that means nothing in testing. Our focus has been testing parts on the car, but I’ve been able to get the set-up more to my liking.”
And he added, “For sure there’s more work to be done in this area, but that’s what we’re here for. The car feels strong and we seem to have a good idea of where we’re going with improvements. Let’s see what happens in Barcelona.”
Testing was halted for almost an hour after pieces of the exit kerb of Turn 9 had been ripped off by the powerful Formula One machines. After an hour the problem was fixed and the circuit officials decided to add another extra 30 minutes, and thus today’s testing ended at 17:30 local time.
Kimi Raikkonen talks with the press – Photo: Lotus F1
Surprisingly, Jules Bianchi was second fastest in the Force India VJM06, he was just 0.027s slower than the Finn. Third was Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull RB9, and the triple World Champion was four-tenths of second behind Raikkonen.
Second-placed Bianchi said, “My first experience of the new car was very positive and it’s clearly an improvement over last year’s car.” His mission today was testing the new Pirellis, “I spent most of the time on the medium tyres, but I got a chance to run the softs as well and they offered a lot of grip so I enjoyed that. It was also nice to do some long runs, so I’ve felt the car on heavy fuel, which is good for my experience.”
Vettel, in third place, was especially happy with the reliability of the RB9. “I think for the whole team it’s been quite a good test,” he said. “No problems in terms of reliability and we did a lot of laps, so I’m quite pleased with the results. I feel a bit better than last year. I think we had some issues with reliability then, so it seems we have done our homework well.”
Esteban Gutierrez was fourth for Sauber after completing 142 laps. Like others, he also tested the new 2013 spec tyres, “We did some new tyre runs at mid-day, and then we did some long runs with high fuel in the afternoon, which gave me the chance to try the car in all different circumstances. It was very interesting for me, because I was able to feel very different things, and I learnt how to adapt my driving style to different situations.”
Successful day for Lewis Hamilton – Photo: Mercedes Benz
Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne again showed the STR8 is fast as he took fifth place, just ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who crashed on Tuesday, but today was behind the wheel of his Mercedes for 145 laps, and set a fastest time of 1m18.905.
“Today we managed the kind of mileage that the car is capable of and I think we have a good platform to start working from. Now we need to understand the F1 W04 even more: personally, I am learning something with every lap I do and every change I make to the set-up,” Hamilton said. “Overall, I think we are probably at the level we would have hoped to be. The team has done a great job to add downforce to the car over the winter and they now need Nico and me to tell them where we can improve and the direction we need to go.”
Sergio Perez, who took over Hamilton’s job at the McLaren team, was again not really quick and landed seventh place in today’s rankings.
Valtteri Bottas was eighth on his second outing in the Williams FW34. Williams again tested components for the FW35, and Bottas was pleased with the results, ” We have achieved everything we planned this week without any issues, and I’ve really liked how the new technical team have been working. We collected some valuable data regarding some parts for the new car and now I’m excited to go to Barcelona to drive the FW35 for the first time.”
Pedro de la Rosa was ninth after a gearbox failure – Photo: Ferrari
The day started with a lot of bad luck for Pedro de la Rosa and Ferrari, the F138 had a gearbox failure after just two laps, and de la Rosa had to park his smoking Ferrari, track marshals quickly extinguished the fire and the car was brought back to the pit lane. The Ferrari engineers worked hard to replace the gearbox and the Spaniard was able to complete 50 laps today, and finished ninth.
Frenchman Charles Pic was in the Caterham today, and tested the KERS system, and Pic commented, “One key part of this test was to work on getting the most out of KERS and we’ve definitely made good progress on that. There’s still more to come from that, especially maximising its performance under braking, but I’m really happy with what we’ve worked through and can’t wait to get back in the car in Barcelona.”
Luiz Razia was 11th in the Marussia, but 3 seconds slower than pace-setter Raikkonen, while Paul di Resta was 12th and last.
Pre-season testing will resume at the Circuit de Catalunya, near Barcelona, from 19 to 22 February.
Jerez testing times – Day 4 – February 8
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m18.148 82 2. Jules Bianchi Force India 1m18.175 + 0.027 56 3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m18.565 + 0.417 96 4. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber 1m18.669 + 0.521 142 5. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m18.760 + 0.612 92 6. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m18.905 + 0.757 145 7. Sergio Perez McLaren 1m18.944 + 0.796 97 8. Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m19.851 + 1.703 91 9. Pedro de la Rosa Ferrari 1m20.316 + 2.168 50 10. Charles Pic Caterham 1m21.105 + 2.957 109 11. Luiz Razia Marussia 1m21.226 + 3.078 81 12. Paul di Resta Force India 1m23.435 + 5.287 49
By Berthold Bouman
Romain Grosjean set the fastest time for Lotus today during the second day of testing at Jerez, the Frenchman put a fastest lap of 1m18.218 on the clock with the new Lotus E21. Paul di Resta was second for Force India, while Daniel Ricciardo took a surprise third place with the Toro Rosso STR8.
Grosjean was optimistic after two test days, “For me, the whole test has gone well which bodes well for the year ahead. My feeling in the car is good and it was great to be at the top of the times. Even if it doesn’t mean anything during testing, it’s still good to be at the front.”
Romain Grosjean leaves the Lotus garage in the E21 – Photo: Lotus F1
A productive day for di Resta and Force India, the Scot completed 95 laps, and he commented, “We got through the programme without any issues. We did some more good aero work this morning and then tried some set-up changes on the car.”
And he added, “Testing is a good chance to make bigger changes than you would make during a race weekend and that’s allowed us to really see how they affect the car and has given us valuable data on tyre performance. The handling of the car so far is good and I’m feeling comfortable after two days in the car.”
In the afternoon Force India reserve driver James Rossiter took over the wheel from di Resta, and he finished the day in tenth place.
Paul di Resta second fastest for Force India today – Photo: Force India
Of course Toro Rosso’s Ricciardo was very pleased with today’s result, “A few more laps today and a bit of a clearer picture of what the STR8 is like. We completed our programme, with short runs in the morning and longer ones in the afternoon.”
And Toro Rosso of course also tested the Pirellis today, “We also tried the medium Pirelli, having only used the hard yesterday, so at least for this circuit, we have established a good compare of the two compounds.”
Mark Webber was fourth in the Red Bull RB9 after he completed 101 laps, almost the race distance of two Grands Prix, but he was over a second slower than pace-setter Grosjean.
Nico Hulkenberg was fifth for Sauber and he was positive about his Sauber debut, “For the second day in a row it was pretty successful. We went through a lot of test items and did a comparison of the compounds — soft, medium and hard — which was quite interesting. Otherwise I was able to continue my familiarisation with the car and I did some long runs. Like yesterday, it was a positive day.”
Plenty of drama for Mercedes in Jerez – Photo: Mercedes-Benz
Not a good day for Lewis Hamilton, who crashed after 30 minutes in the Mercedes W04. He ploughed through the gravel trap and ended up in the barrier at Turn 6. He was unhurt but the car sustained quite some damage. Not a good start for Mercedes, as the car caught fire yesterday, the fire was caused by a faulty wiring loom.
Hamilton was sidelined for the rest of the day as Mercedes were trying to locate the problem, it later emerged a brake line to the right-rear calliper had broken. Hamilton commented on his unfortunate Mercedes debut, “These things happen and it’s all part of testing. Of course, it’s better that we get these small issues out of the way sooner rather than later, and the guys are working really hard to overcome them.”
About the W04 he said, “From the few short laps that I completed this morning, my general feeling was very positive. I got a good understanding of where the base of the car is and, whilst we need to do work in certain areas, it was good to have some laps to get a feel for what those areas are. I’ve told the guys that we just need to keep pushing and I know that we all will be doing that.”
A bit of a disappointment was Sergio Perez’s debut for McLaren, he finished the day in seventh place with the MP4-28, yesterday his team colleague Jenson Button took the fastest time of the day for McLaren.
Felipe Massa was kind of invisible today, but he duly lapped the circuit and finally finished the day in eighth place with the Ferrari F138.
Williams encountered a clutch problem this morning, but it was quickly fixed and the Grove-based team today concentrated on the Pirelli tyres, Maldonado was ninth fastest today, “We did some good running this afternoon going through our planned tests but there is still a lot to do to understand the tyres even better.”
Giedo van der Garde in the CT03 – Photo: Caterham F1
Giedo van der Garde was 11th in the Caterham today, he also tested the Pirellis. “In the morning session we ran through a number of aero programs and then switched to comparing setup options on a variety of the tyre compounds. I think we found a good direction in the last run in the afternoon so now the team can keep making progress in the next two days,” he commented.
And 12th and last was Luiz Razia, who jumped straight into the Marussia MR02 after the Anglo-Russian team confirmed earlier today the Brazilian had joined the team. Unfortunately he still needs some time to get used to the car, as he was 5.319 seconds slower than pace-setter Grosjean.
Jerez testing times – Day 2 – February 6
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m18.218 95 2. Paul di Resta Force India 1m19.003 + 0.785 95 3. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m19.134 + 0.916 83 4. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m19.338 + 1.120 101 5. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber 1m19.502 + 1.284 99 6. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1m19.519 + 1.301 15 7. Sergio Perez McLaren 1m19.572 + 1.354 81 8. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m19.914 + 1.696 78 9. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m20.693 + 2.475 71 10. James Rossiter Force India 1m21.273 + 3.055 19 11. Giedo van der Garde Caterham 1m21.311 + 3.093 88 12. Luiz Razia Marussia 1m23.537 + 5.319 31
By Berthold Bouman
Paul di Resta was the only Force India driver present at the launch of the new Force India VJM06 today at Silverstone, the Indian team owned by Indian entrepreneur Vijay Mallya still has to announce their second driver.
Meanwhile, di Resta is confident of a strong 2013 season with the brand-new VJM06. The Scot had a well-deserved winter break, but is now looking forward to get behind the wheel again. Di Resta is well-prepared for the 2013 season, “I had some good productive training with Gerry Convy and I think this year I can actually read my energy levels and really look at when is the right time to be training, when you feel ready, and when you feel strongest. I’m keen and eager to get back in the car and get back to business.”
But he also wants to make a stronger start than in 2012, “I think the pressure is on all the departments to make sure we start better, last year we under performed, certainly until the European season kicked in. We did get some good results before that — in the rain in Malaysia and in Bahrain, where we just got everything together and managed to achieve something remarkable that early in the season.”
One of the changes this season is that the Drag Reduction System (DRS) can no longer be used during free practice and in qualifying is restricted to the same zones as during the race. Will this make a difference? “In my mind I see it as a safer approach and it’s what most of the drivers want. I think ultimately the bigger teams with more downforce had the advantage, because they were coming out with double DRS systems and so on. Also, it was touch and go where you could use DRS. Some teams could use it through the corners, whereas we were closing it,” said di Resta.
The Force India VJM06 – Photo: Force India
And he added, “Ultimately it’s fine as long as the FIA make sure the DRS is quicker over the lap and it gives you the switch and the gear ratio choice for overtaking — that is why it was introduced. It’s not there to be a performance-enhancing device in qualifying.”
All teams have been able to test the new 2013 Pirelli tyres during the weekend of the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix, asked about his thoughts di Resta said, “It will be interesting to see how it will affect the car. The day we tried them in Brazil we experienced the hottest track temperature all year — it was baking hot! They performed well.”
He is satisfied with the Pirelli tyres, “Pirelli has done a very good job over the last couple of years and the tyres do what they should do — they wear out and when you put a fresh set on you go quicker!”
Pirelli has promised more pit stops this year, which is good according to di Resta, “Last year we probably saw a few issues where there were not enough pit stops. We want to see races with more pit stops and more strategy coming into it.”
Asked about how optimistic he is ahead of this season he replied, “I’m feeling very good, I must say. I’m working very closely with my team of people, and that’s changed slightly in different departments.”
“We’re all trying to do the best job possible. Whether it’s managing time and making sure you’re in the best frame of mind or whether that’s on-track performance and the finer details of the car set-up, ultimately it’s all about performance and results. I know the way this team works and they know how I work. When it all gels well we can obviously see the results we get. We just need to make sure we can achieve that on a more consistent basis.”
Paul di Resta in the VJM06 at Silverstone today – Photos: Force India
By Berthold Bouman
Force India is the fourth team to unveil their 2013 contender, the VJM06, but unlike other teams, Force India took the VJM06 out for a spin on the Silverstone circuit, and thus are the first team to show a running car.
As the 2013 regulations have hardly changed, the new car is more an evolution than a complete revolution, and design and production has been overseen by Technical Director Andrew Green. But all parts have been redesigned Green said, “It’s a brand new car from the ground-up — everything is new. We discussed carrying over big chunks of last year’s car, including the chassis, but decided not to.”
Force India is the first team to use the ‘modesty’ or ‘vanity’ panel, to hide the step in the nose of the car. “The biggest change that everybody is going to notice this year is the fairing on top of the nose to hide the ‘step’. It’s neutral as far as the car’s performance is concerned but tidies up the flow over the top of the chassis,” Green said.
Paul di Resta drives the VJM06 at Silverstone – Photo: Force India
Team Principal Dr. Vijay Mallya commented on the new car, “The VJM06 doesn’t look massively different to its predecessor, but beneath the skin we’ve looked at every detail to try and find more performance.” And he added, “I’ve followed the development of the car closely and I’m proud of what we have achieved. The objective now is to make sure we build on the promise of last year and have a strong start to the season.”
Chief Operating Officer Otmar Szafnauer is optimistic ahead of the new season, “We’ve been working hard over the winter, trying to make improvements where we know we can find performance. Everything has come together very nicely. We’ve also focussed on operational strength by bolstering our simulator programme and increasing our CFD capacity with new hardware.
But still missing during the launch, was the second Force India driver, only Paul di Resta was present at Silverstone, and he commented, “Seeing the car built and complete for the first time is a special feeling. I’ve followed its progress in the tunnel and it looks very impressive — aggressive and fast. Now I’m just eager to get out there and see where we stand compared to our competitors. After the winter I feel refreshed and keen to get back to business!”
All photos: Force India
By Berthold Bouman
With less than four weeks to go before pre-season testing starts at Jerez, Spain, the 2013 driver line-up is almost complete, only Caterham and Force India both have still one vacancy. It is certainly not easy to get into Formula One, but staying there is almost as difficult, as Swiss media reported Sebastien Buemi will again sign as Red Bull’s test and reserve driver after being ousted from Red Bull’s Italian sister team, Toro Rosso, in 2011.
It is highly likely it is all over for the Spanish HRT team, according to veteran driver Pedro de la Rosa, and therefore only 22 drivers will be on the grid when the season kicks off in Melbourne, Australia, on March 17.
Red Bull Racing
After winning his third consecutive title Sebastian Vettel is confirmed for 2013, while Mark Webber will be the number two driver for the Austrian team, as he recently signed a one-year contract. The pair will drive for the successful team for the fifth consecutive year, but team advisor Helmut Marko is not happy with Webber’s last year’s achievements and has threatened to dump him next year.
Of course championship runner-up Fernando Alonso will stay with the Maranello-based team, he has a contract until 2016. Not much to choose, and also not much to lose either is what Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo must have thought when he signed Felipe Massa for another year. Massa had a bad start of the 2012 season, but wrestled his way back into contention during the second half of the season, and helped Ferrari to clinch second place in the Constructors’ Championship.
After many mechanical failures, bad pit stops and other disappointments, Lewis Hamilton left the team he grew up with and Jenson Button is now the number one driver, at least for this season. Sergio Perez will drive alongside the Briton, but whether the Mexican driver, who started his career at Sauber, is up to the job remains to be seen. Although he can be very fast, he lacks some experience and often makes mistakes that cost him dearly.
By Berthold Bouman
Ex-Sauber driver Kamui Kobayashi has given up his attempts to conquer a seat for the 2013 season, he reported on his website. The Japanese driver lost his seat to Mexican Esteban Gutierrez, but was still hoping to find a competitive team for next year. Thanks to his fans he gathered 8 million Euro to support his bid, but apparently ran out of options.
“I was in the position to bring a budget of €8 million at least,” said Kobayashi on his website. “If you could imagine the time I had, it was an overwhelming reaction and it shows there still is a great potential from Japanese companies.”
And he added, “Unfortunately, the time was still short and I am not able to secure the seat with a competitive F1 team for 2013. I have to admit that it is very sad and [I] feel sorry for [the] fans and Japanese companies who supported me. But I am still confident to make it happen in 2014.”
Kobayashi has stopped his donation program for now, and he will use the money to get a seat for the 2014 season. “I would like to stop the donation for now and while I will save all the money for 2014, I start to look what is the best option for 2013 and also 2014. My main priority is to secure the competitive F1 seat in 2014,” he told his fans.
“I have no interests to race any other categories. I will make an announcement as soon as I make a decision for 2013. So, please wait and really looking forward your support for coming year, too.”
Kobayashi finished in 12th place in the 2012 Drivers’ Championship, as he earned 60 points. He celebrated his biggest success in his native Japan, where he took third place for Sauber in front of a home-crowd.
They only options left for a drive in 2013 were Caterham, Marussia and Force India, but somehow it didn’t work out for Kobayashi, who made name and fame with his aggressive, but fair driving style, and his daring overtaking manoeuvres.
Kamui Kobayashi says goodbye to Sauber Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn
By Berthold Bouman
Ex-Force India driver Adrian Sutil is working on a return to Formula One, after being ousted by the Indian team at the end of 2011. Sutil was dropped by his team after he had been accused of assaulting Lotus’ Eric Lux in a Shanghai nightclub during the 2011 Chinese Grand Prix.
After a court case, where the German was handed a suspended 18-month jail term and a 200,000 Euro fine, the 29-year old driver claims his problems have been solved now and he is free to travel to all countries on the 2013 calendar, including China.
Sutil was at the ROC event in Bangkok last weekend as commentator for German television and said, “We checked of course, me and my management; we checked all the countries and there’s no problem for me to travel, so that’s why I’m also here in Bangkok without any trouble!” And he added, “All the problems I had last winter are solved, it’s a new beginning.”
Sutil’s manager Manfred Zimmermann recently revealed he is in talks with Force India, and Sutil has pinned his hopes on returning to his old team, but also Jules Bianchi, Kamui Kobayashi, Jaime Alguersuari and Bruno Senna are interested to race alongside Paul di Resta in 2013.
Adrian Sutil was ousted by Force India in 2011 after a fight with Eric Lux
His career is in the hands of Force India team boss and team owner Vijay Mallya. “They know who I am, they know how to work with me so in the last five years we’ve got a lot of experience. There’s nothing too much to say, it’s all up to Vijay; it’s Vijay’s decision and hopefully he will make the right one so that I am in the car,” Sutil said in Bangkok.
And he further commented, “It’s hard, what can I do? Five years I was in this team so they know how good I am, they know my qualities, so I’m not the one who has gone to this team and said ‘please, please give me the drive’, I think they also should come to me and say “Yes, we want you” and that’s a good base.”
“So I want to drive for this team but they should also want me as a driver, so that’s why I’m quite relaxed. I know how to handle this situation; I did the maximum I could do at the moment and now it’s all up to them to decide if I’m in the seat or not.”
Sutil started his Formula One career with the Dutch Spyker Formula One team in 2007, he stayed when Mallya bought the team in 2008 but was ousted at the end of 2011 due to the Shanghai nightclub incident.
By Berthold Bouman
Force India has officially given up on taking sixth place from rival Sauber in the Constructors’ Championship, as Vijay Mallay’s Team is now 29 points behind the Swiss outfit. Asked a bout the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Mallya said, “I have mixed feelings because we extended our run of points finishes, but on the other hand our two main rivals were ahead of us and scored well. With two races to go Sauber are almost out of reach and Williams are just 22 points behind us.”
Which means Force India has to be careful not to lose that seventh place to Williams, but said Mallya, “Without the problems at the first corner, I’m convinced we could have been up there fighting for some bigger points.” Mallya is looking forward to the first visit of Force India to the United States, “It’s such an important market for the teams and the brands associated with the sport so it’s a very welcome return to the calendar. It will be the first time Sahara Force India has raced on American soil and the whole team is excited to be going there.”
Also driver Paul di Resta thinks he could have scored more points in Abu Dhabi, “In terms of race pace the car was strong, I overtook a lot of cars and without the puncture we could definitely have had a stronger day.” Like his team boss, the Scott also thinks Sauber’s sixth place is now out of reach, “I think under normal circumstances you’d probably say Sauber are out of reach. Williams looked good in Abu Dhabi, but I think we’re in a strong enough position to defend from them.”
But di Resta is adamant the Circuit of the Americas will suit the car, “Austin will be an unknown but it’s a new track so it’s likely to be similar to Abu Dhabi with new tarmac and a smooth surface. So there’s every reason to believe we can be competitive there.”
Force India TV – Nico Hulkenberg on the United States Grand Prix
Nico Hulkenberg visits Codemasters to try out the new Formula 1 2012 video game and gets his first taste of the brand new Circuit Of The Americas. He talks about the game then takes the virtual VJM05 for a lap of the track.
By Berthold Bouman
The Sauber team today confirmed Nico Hulkenberg has signed a contract for 2013 with the Swiss outfit. The 25-year old German driver will replace Sergio Perez who will join McLaren next year. Sauber was impressed by Hulkenberg’s achievements in Formula One, thus signing him wasn’t a difficult decision.
Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn commented, “We’ve been observing Nico for some time now and his performances have been very persuasive. That was the case in GP2 and has continued into Formula One.”
And she further explained, “An obvious highlight was how he scored pole at Interlagos in 2010 despite the most challenging external conditions. He clearly showed that he can seize the chance if it arises. But high spots like that are one thing; systematic teamwork is another — and on that score I have confidence in Nico too. I’m sure he will fit in very well with the Sauber F1 Team. We look forward to working together with him.”
Hulkenberg is looking forward to the new challenge, “I’m really looking forward to working with the Sauber F1 Team. It’s a well-placed team and very competitive. Plus it’s a team in which young drivers have repeatedly delivered exceptional performances. I would like to take up that baton.”
And he added, “The Sauber F1 Team is currently going through a very positive development and I’m certain that together we can achieve a lot. Until that time I will remain fully focused on my job with the Sahara Force India Team. I’d like to thank the management at Sahara Force India for giving me the chance to return to Formula One as a team driver.”
Hulkenberg’s C.V. is impressive indeed, before his Formula One career he won the Formula BMW ADAC series in 2005, he won the A1GP series in the 2006-2007 season, and he won the Masters of Formula Three in 2007. In 2008 he won the Formula Three Euroseries, and in 2009 won the GP2 series.
He started his Formula One career with Williams in 2010, but was dumped in favour of Pastor Maldonado, he was test driver for Force India in 2011 before he became a regular driver for the Indian team in 2012 and Hulkenberg is currently 12th in the Drivers’ Championship.
Sauber has yet to announce their second driver for 2013.
By Berthold Bouman
Although Vijay Mallya’s arrest warrant was withdrawn after the Indian billionaire had paid the bills of his Kingfisher airline, he still faces a number of problems. Mallya’s airline has been grounded since the beginning of this month and disgruntled employees have hinted they will confront Mallya during his home Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit.
“We have planned to stage a dharna [sit-in protest] when Mr Vijay Mallya comes at the Grand prix,” said a Kingfisher engineer. “A protest at the sporting event will highlight our plight to the entire world.”
Kingfisher’s licence to fly has been suspended, and it is possible the airline will lose it’s licence altogether. The airline has offered to pay three months salary, but the employees want all their salaries paid, as they have not been paid for the past seven months. Yesterday employees officially rejected the offer, and Kingfisher shares have dropped 4.6% according to the Hindustan Times.
“At meetings held in Mumbai and New Delhi, the employees reached a broad agreement to reject the management offer. We will write a letter to them on the same,” a senior flight engineer said yesterday. “We have also taken legal advice on the issue, but we are awaiting more clarity on the matter before taking any further step.”
Indian media have called the Force India team owner an absconder, and yesterday Mallya finally broke the silence. “I travel 24×7 where my multiple work responsibilities take me. Sections of media call me an absconder because I don’t talk to them,” said Mallya in a tweet.
Unimpressed by the tweet a flight attendant said, “What is the option left before us but to protest? All of us are in deep financial crisis, but [he] is unperturbed. [He’s] mocking at our misery with his lifestyle.”
And last but not least, about 6,500 employees risk to lose their job as all planes are still grounded. It is understood that the employees may also seek intervention of India’s civil aviation minister.
By Berthold Bouman
More trouble for Vijay Mallya and his Kingfisher airline as the Times of India reported a local Hyderabad court on Friday issued non-bailable warrants against the airline chairman and three of his company executives.
The warrants were issued after they failed to respond to summons related to a case against them for four bounced cheques involving a total of 100 million rupees, the case was filed by GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd.
The newspaper also claims the Counsel of Kingfisher sought exemption from appearance on Friday for Mallya and the three others but the court dismissed the plea.
The Force India boss is in big trouble indeed as the cash-strapped Kingfisher Airlines has been grounded since the beginning of the month after its personnel went on strike over unpaid salaries. Mallya had called upon his personnel not to go on strike and not to ‘disgrace’ Kingfisher Airlines, but they refused. As a result, Kingfisher Airlines has been shut down until October 20.
Mallya now faces arrest in his native India, it is unknown what the impact of his arrest could have on his Formula One team, in most countries ‘check bounce’ is a criminal offence, but experts say Mallya will not be arrested immediately and it is more likely a new court date is set.
According to Forbes.com, as of March 2010, Mallya, was worth US $1 billion, and the Times of India reported ‘Mallya is known for his lavish parties, villas, automobiles, Force India, Royal Challengers Bangalore and his yacht, the Indian Empress’.
By Berthold Bouman
Two fourth places for Force India this season, Paul di Resta was fourth in Singapore, while his team colleague Nico Hulkenberg took fourth place at Spa-Francorchamps, the next logical step would be a podium finish during one of the final six races of the season.
Team Principal Vijay Mallya is still confident and commented, “As I’ve said before that little bit of luck has eluded us. Hopefully it will come to us one day, because we’ve shown the pace of the car. This is the second time we’ve finished fourth in the last three races, so we’re becoming the bridesmaid a bit too often!”
Force India is still aiming for sixth place in the Constructors’ Championship, the Indian team is currently seventh, 26 points behind rival Sauber, but 21 points ahead of their other rival Williams, who have so far gathered 54 points. “It’s not bad to be sitting at this stage of the season with 75 points in total — we’ve come a long way,” said Mallya.
Asked whether his team is still on target he replied, “I still remember the situation in 2010 when Williams pipped us by one point at the last race, so I guess it’s not over until it’s over! I’m still hoping that we can do it and one strong podium finish could help to wipe out Sauber’s advantage. It all depends how strong our rivals are in the final six races, but we certainly have some momentum.”
German Nico Hulkenberg doesn’t have good memories of the Suzuka circuit, and stated, “My race in 2010 with Williams was not especially memorable because I was taken out before the first corner. That was a real shame because it’s a track I really enjoy and with corners like the ‘S’ curves it’s a great experience in a Formula One car.”
He describes the main challenges of this very fast, but also technical circuit, from a driver’s point of view, “Suzuka is definitely one of my favourite circuits: it’s really challenging and technical, and you need a good car balance to hook up a good lap. Because it’s so technical it’s important to find a good rhythm because if you mess up one corner you can lose the flow of the whole lap.”
Hulkenberg’s main goal this weekend will be scoring points, “I’m feeling positive and we have generated some good momentum within the team recently so I want to keep that going. The goal is to keep getting consistent results in the points.”
Video: Paul Di Resta sums up the challenge of the classic Suzuka circuit ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix
By Berthold Bouman
Force India is currently seventh in the Formula One Constructors’ Championship, 37 points behind the sixth-placed Sauber team, finishing in sixth place was Force India’s goal for this season, and thus the Indian team has some catching up to do, as Williams is only nine points behind them and has set its sights on beating Force India.
A great qualifying performance in Italy from Paul di Resta who was fourth, but drama for Nico Hulkenberg who couldn’t even put a timed lap on the clock as his car suddenly lost drive and the German had to start from 24th and last spot on the grid.
Unfortunately di Resta received a five-place grid penalty for changing his gearbox and thus started from ninth place on the start grid, and finished in eight place, while Hulkenberg had brake problems and had to retire from the race after 50 laps.
“If Paul had started where he should have started I’m sure he would have finished higher up the order,” said Force India owner Vijay Mallya. And added, “It was very unfortunate what happened to Nico during qualifying, where he couldn’t set a time. Given the pace of the cars I would have expected him to qualify somewhere close to Paul, so we could potentially have had both well inside the top ten. It was not to be.”
About securing sixth place in the Constructors’ Championship he remained upbeat, “I’m an optimist and I don’t give up! It’s tough, Williams are strong, Sauber are strong. And look at what’s happening with Lotus. A lot of teams that were regarded as midfield teams last year are now pushing the big boys pretty hard.”
One of the challenges of Singapore is the different time schedule, drivers and team personnel stay on an European time schedule. Di Resta explained, “It’s not something I find difficult. The important thing is making sure you choose the right flight to arrive in Singapore at the right time of day.
“You also have to make sure the hotel staff don’t tap on your door in the morning at 9am because you need to be sleeping for another five hours! I always go to bed at 6am and wake up at 2pm, that’s my routine.” He’s looking forward to the race, “I had a good race there last year and we’ve seen already that the car has been strong on street circuits this year. So I’m hoping that we will go well there, optimise the set-up and pick up some good points!”
Nico Hulkenberg talks us through the challenge of Singapore’s Marina Bay Circuit – video by Force India