Force India head to Valencia optimistic of another double points finish on the Spanish street circuit, just as they managed on similar tracks at Monte Carlo and Montreal.
Team Principal Vijay Mallya regards Valencia as a turning point in Force India’s 2009 campaign and expects new updates to help them to a strong result on Sunday. “Valencia was really where our performance started to show through last year so we are all looking forward to going back there,” he said. “Our technical team and the drivers are confident we’ll go well there as it’s medium to low downforce and the performance we showed in Canada demonstrated that we have a strong package on this type of configuration.
“Additionally we have some new upgrades scheduled for introduction that should keep us abreast of the other teams. It’s a development race now and rather than introduce major new upgrades we’re doing it as and when ready to keep the momentum high.”
Mallya also had praise for his two race drivers, Adrian Sutil and Tonio Liuzzi, who he believes are forming a good partnership this season. “When you see them together there is a harmonious working relationship,” he said of the duo. “They constantly talk about the races, sit in the same debriefs, eat meals together at the circuit and do get on together well, and I think it’s one of the many reasons we are performing so well this year.
“While clearly wanting to be as fast as they can, they believe that the team comes first and by helping the overall level of performance they can, themselves, achieve their own goals. For me it’s one of the strongest driver line-ups in the field as they work so well together.”
Sutil is not a massive fan with the circuit around the Juan Carlos I Marina. “Valencia is not my favourite circuit as there’s not so much of a challenge for the driver,” said the German. “Even though it’s classed as a street circuit, it doesn’t really feel like it as there’s no challenging corners: it’s just braking into hairpins, then flat out. You just don’t get the thrill you have on a standard street circuit like Monaco or Singapore.”
The driver, who currently sits tenth in standings, thinks that Force India will be strong in Sunday’s race. “Valencia needs a medium to low downforce aero configuration and we’ve shown that we can perform well on this type of track,” said Sutil. “We were strong in Canada and I believe we can be quite good in Valencia as well.
“We’ve also got some new parts coming for this race that should further improve our performance, including a new front wing and some smaller bodywork changes, plus a few minor suspension component developments. I think it looks promising.”
Tonio Liuzzi has never raced here before, but agrees with his teammate that Force India should be competitive this weekend. “I’ve been working hard in the simulator this week and I think we can have a good pace there,” said the Italian. “I like street circuits and I can go well on them as I showed in Monaco and Canada.
“I’ve also got a bit of a head start there as well as I’ve been at the last two events (as a test driver) and have had access to all of the last years’ data, which helps with the preparation. The team also did very well there with Adrian and Giancarlo [Fisichella] finishing in the top 12 and it was really where we started being closer to the points.
“I know it will be tough but we were mixing it with Mercedes and Renault in Canada and, with our new upgrades to the front and the rear of the car, I’m pretty hopeful we can repeat our performance of Montreal – hopefully without the first lap accident this time!”
Test and reserve driver Paul di Resta will be back in the car this weekend, participating in Free Practice 1 on the Friday. “I’m really looking forward to getting back in the car again in Valencia, particularly as it’s been a few months since I was last out in practice in Spain,” said the Scot. “Valencia is quite a good circuit to get back on track as it’s fast and smooth and looks pretty easy to learn as a layout.
“I’m preparing myself for it with the usual simulator work and then we’ll walk the track on the Thursday to pick up the smaller details like the kerbing, bumps and any changes from last year that might affect the baseline set-up we run on Friday.
“Tonio and I will be in pretty similar positions in that we’ve never raced on the circuit before so we’ll work together to get as much information as possible for the rest of the weekend. I’ve also had a weekend off since Canada – which is pretty unusual this year! – so I feel rested and relaxed ahead of the event.”