The Sahara Force India team currently sit fifth in the Formula 1 constructors championship, but saw their 100% points scoring run end last time out in Hungary when first Nico Hulkenberg and then Sergio Perez crashed out of the race. The team will be looking to get back on track this weekend at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium.
Hulkenberg will be looking to get back into scoring points after seeing his 100% record this season end in the barriers last time out in Hungary. The German is feeling happy and refreshed as he arrives in Belgium, and is hoping for a strong weekend.
“The summer break was a good opportunity to stay at home in Switzerland and relax,” said Hulkenberg. “I’m feeling refreshed and ready to get back in the car because three weeks is a long time away from racing.
“I’m feeling upbeat. There’s a lot at stake, but the team is up for the fight. We made the most of our opportunities in the first part of the season and we need to do the same in the final eight races. I expect a close battle in the championship until the end of the season so we need to be consistently picking up good points.
“It’s an amazing track and one of my favourites – as it probably is for everybody on the grid. There are so many iconic corners, such as Eau Rouge and Pouhon, which feel very special in a Formula One car. For the high and medium speed corners you obviously need downforce, but it’s a trade-off with top speed on the long straights so you need good efficiency.”
For Perez, he has never managed to finish in the points at Spa-Francorchamps, and will be looking to rectify that fact this weekend. He admits to liking the track, and feels Eau Rouge might be more of a challenge this year with the Mexican having doubts that it can be taken flat out.
“During the season I don’t manage to go home as often as I would like so it was a good chance to spend time with my family,” said Perez ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix.
“I love the track. It has amazing corners, lots of character and history. The racing is always intense because there are a couple of overtaking opportunities; especially in turn five if you get a good run through Eau Rouge. It will be interesting to see how these cars cope with Eau Rouge this year and whether we can still take it flat.
“I’ve never scored points at Spa, so that’s my first target. We also need to put the disappointment of Hungary behind us. Spa is a power track and I think we can perform well there. You also have to expect wet weather at some point so it could be quite unpredictable.”
Team Principal and Managing Director Dr Vijay Mallya is hoping that the double retirement in Hungary is a one-off and that the team can return to the points at Spa. He knows one good result could make a difference in the championship, with it being close between fourth and sixth place at the moment, and hopes the high speed nature of the Belgian track enables them to get a good result, especially with the Mercedes power unit strapped into the car.
“Until Hungary we had scored points in every race, so I guess we were due to have an unlucky weekend at some stage,” said Mallya. “I just hope that’s our bad luck over and done with. At the same time there was a huge opportunity to come away with some significant points so it was a missed opportunity. Both drivers came to me and apologised. Checo was unlucky: the same thing happened to Vettel at the same corner and he got away with it.
“I’m pleased we went into the summer break in fifth place. I think it’s where we deserve to be at this stage of the season. Fourth place is not out of reach either with 38 points covering fourth to sixth place. One race can make all the difference, and the last race, with double points, could prove to be decisive. So we’ll just keep our heads down and focus on every single race and take it as it comes.
“The time has gone quickly, but since then the team has only become stronger. It was a breakthrough moment when people sat up and started to take us seriously. I’m proud of where we are today and I feel there will be some big opportunities in the final eight races for us to show our potential. Spa is a high-speed track so it’s an opportunity for the Mercedes-engined teams, but equally there are other tracks we are looking forward to, such as Singapore.”