Force India got back amongst the points last weekend in Barcelona, and the team are now ‘eagerly anticipating’ Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix.
Adrian Sutil almost scored the team’s first points in Monte Carlo back in 2008, before Kimi Raikkonen took him out of the race while he running fourth. Liuzzi finished tenth here in 2006 and claimed pole position and victory in the 2004 F3000 race.
Unlike the last four races, reserve driver Paul di Resta will not be in the car during Free Practice 1. The team have elected to allow both race drivers to participate in all practice session so they can find the best possible set-up for Sunday’s race.
Team principal Vijay Mallya thinks that the team have a good chance of increasing their points tally this weekend: “Very clearly we’re strong in some areas and on a track like Monaco, which requires a lot of downforce, I think our car will perform well. We have a little additional downforce package for Monaco, and both drivers are very much looking forward to it. Both have consistently done well there, so I’m also looking forward to being well into the points.”
Mallya is also very encouraged by the fact that Adrian Sutil has clocked up solid finishes in Monte Carlo from lowly grid positions in previous seasons, and thinks that both his drivers can do well from the stronger position Force India find themselves in 2010: “I’ve never in the last three years seen Adrian be so happy and excited, and have such confidence. Tonio also takes confidence there knowing he has had some good results and has a good car underneath him. We’re very optimistic.”
Sutil is optimistic that new parts on his VJM03 should help his quest for points this weekend, and he still has memories of 2008 incident. “For Monaco we have another package,” said the German, “and that should help us a lot. I can’t wait to get there: I like the circuit, and I’ve kind of had good results there. Kind of, I’m saying! I remember in 2008 with the accident with Kimi being very close to a great finish, but it didn’t happen.
“This year is a very different situation. I have a good car, and it doesn’t matter which weather is around. If we have a good qualifying there, which is very important, a couple of points are possible there, or even more.”
There is a prospect of rain in Monaco this weekend, but Sutil isn’t worried. “I know how to drive around a street circuit in the wet, although it’s tricky. You need a little bit of luck to make it all right, and 2008 was one of those races when everything went right – our pit stop was at the right time when it dried out. It all counts towards getting a good result. I’m confident in our abilities as a team to make the right judgements.”
Tonio Liuzzi celebrates half a century of race starts this weekend at a track he enjoys. “It’s good to know I have been in this business for quite a while and reaching 50 races is an achievement, and it feels particularly nice to be able to do this in Monaco. I love the track, it’s a great race and we always have some highlights there. I really want to be back in the points to celebrate my 50th race.”
The Italian’s last race in Monaco was back in 2007, but doesn’t think that he will be at a disadvantage this week. “I won’t have to relearn the track as I have quite a bit of experience there from F3000 and then the three years I did in F1, but for sure the cars have changed a lot since I was last there and you need to get used to the handling on this type of high downforce, twisty circuit.
“Qualifying is for sure going to be tough here with the 24 cars out on Q1 so we will have to really work hard to optimise this, but the race is always a real thrill for any driver. The aim is to do the maximum and get back into the points.”
Force India reserve driver Paul di Resta is still looking forward to his weekend in Monte Carlo, even though he isn’t going to be in the car. “I’m not driving but it’s going to be great, I am really looking forward to it. I have been there as a support race in Formula 3 going back six years but it will be nice to be there as part of an Formula 1 team, which is the main theme of the event!
“I am there for a week so I am sure I will enjoy the whole atmosphere, but equally you have to be very professional and I need to take as much information out of the weekend as possible about the track, the settings and so on, so even when I’m sitting on the sidelines I’m going to be working hard.”