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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.”
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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.”
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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
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
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
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
By Berthold Bouman
Like all the other teams, Force India enjoyed their summer break, but it is time to get back to the action, Team Principal Vijay Mallya is still aiming for sixth place in the Constructor’s Championship.
Asked about what to focus on for the second part of the season Mallya was adamant, “It’s a complete package. It’s the car on the track, and whether it’s the set-up, whether it’s the downforce, whether it’s the tyres, at the end of the day the whole thing has to come together as a package. Fundamentally it’s a good car. We just need to put a few more points in our pocket, that’s what’s important.”
Like all others, the Force India owner is also looking forward to Spa, “Spa and Monza are among our favourite races and we’ve done well there in the past. We look forward to doing better in both of them, before the flyaway races start. But yes, the car has to be competitive on every track.”
Paul di Resta spent the summer break at home, and he feels refreshed. “I spent the time at home, seeing friends, watching the Olympics and keeping up with my training. We’re only half way through the season and the next few months are probably the busiest of the year with lots of fly-away races so it was important to relax and come back fresh,” he said.
Asked about his targets for the second half of the season he said, “There’s still a long way to go in the championship and we need to get back to scoring regular points. Last year we ended the season strongly and we need to do the same this year.
“Williams are not too far ahead of us but Sauber have a big points advantage and it’s going to be a big task to overcome that. But we won’t give up; we’ll keep pushing and see what we can do. We definitely have the potential to get some big results before the end of the year.”
Nico Hulkenberg loves the Spa circuit and said, “Spa is a great track. There’s just such a great flow to the circuit with some mighty corners that are incredible. It’s definitely one of the best places to drive a Formula One car to feel the performance through the high-speed corners. It is one of my favourite tracks.”
In the video below, Nico Hulkenberg tells more about the challenge of one of the most spectacular circuits on the calendar, the legendary Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. Video by Force India.