The Sahara Force India team secured a double points finish with Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez at Suzuka last weekend, but the crash for their former reserve driver Jules Bianchi took the shine off the result.
Team Principal and Managing Director Dr Vijay Mallya insisted the thoughts of all of the team remain with Bianchi and with the Marussia team at this sad time.
“Everybody at Sahara Force India continues to send support to Jules and the Marussia team,” said Mallya. “We know Jules well having worked with him during 2012. His recovery is the main priority at the moment.”
Mallya believes the team face a big challenge over the remaining four races to hold onto their current fifth place in the Constructors’ championship, with McLaren breathing down their necks.
“We are hanging on in there and we know we face a big task in the final four races to maintain this advantage,” insisted Mallya. “We are certainly motivated and will do all we can to add performance to the car and score points. In Formula One, anything can happen – we’ve seen it over and over again – and with double points on offer in Abu Dhabi there is all to play for.”
Nico Hulkenberg is looking forward to getting out on track at Sochi on what will be his first visit to Russia, and goes there with an open mind of what to expect from a track he has only seen via photographs.
“It’s always fun to explore a new place and this will be my first visit to Russia,” stated Hulkenberg. “So far I’ve only seen a few photos of the paddock and the track layout so I will arrive there with a very open mind about what to expect. However, I do have high expectations because I know that the organisers have made a big effort to make the race a success.
“It’s hard to look at a track on paper and really get an understanding of how it will feel to drive. I prefer to go there and experience things before I make judgements and talk about track characteristics. So in that sense it’s too early for me to compare it with another circuit. What is clear is that there are some really quick sections and a lot of right-angled corners.
“It’s fun to learn a new track and I look forward to the first few laps of free practice. I would say that after about 10 laps you’ve done your learning and start to feel comfortable. After that, you can focus more on improving the car’s performance.”
Sergio Perez agrees with his team-mate, and feels the track looks to be an impressive facility. He knows he will have to walk or cycle the track on Thursday a number of times to get the feel of it, before working through his usual routine on track on Friday when free practice gets underway.
“I’m really looking forward to the race in Sochi,” said Perez. “It’s a country that will be totally new for me and so it’s exciting to go there for the first time. I will feel like a tourist looking around the city.
“The location of the track inside the Olympic park is very unusual. If I get the opportunity I will definitely explore a bit. From the photographs I’ve seen it looks to be a very impressive facility. There are some long straights, some tight corners, and I think it will feel like a street circuit because the walls are close to the track in a lot of areas.
“To prepare for a new track I normally walk the track and cycle it a few times. Normally you need about 10 laps before you can really start doing performance runs. Nobody knows the track so it will be the same situation for all of us. We all start from zero.”