Monday, 6 April 2015

Sahara Force India Chinese Grand Prix Preview

(Sahara Force India Formula One Team)

The Sahara Force India Formula One Team head into this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix hoping to bounce back from a difficult Malaysian Grand Prix last time out.

At the Australian Grand Prix last month, Sergio ‘Checco’ Perez and Nico Hulkenberg started the race from 14th and 15th place respectively. Hulkenberg did a fantastic job as he came home in 7th place while Perez finished the race in 10th place which was a great achievement when you consider that the team had very limited mileage in the new car during winter testing.

In Malaysia, Hulkenberg and Perez qualified in 13th and 14th place while in the race that is where they finished in 13th and 14th place with Perez in 13th. Speaking ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix, Sahara Force India Team Principal Dr Vijay Mallya stated:

The first two races of the season have seen varying fortunes for Sahara Force India. After scoring points in Australia, it was more of a challenge in Malaysia where Nico and Sergio showed their fighting spirit and enjoyed plenty of TV airtime as a result. Both weekends were valuable learning opportunities for us as we work hard to improve the VJM08.

"Everyone in the team deserves credit for the strong reliability of the VJM08, but there is a long way to go on the development path. We know the areas we need to improve and I’ve been impressed with the attitude of the team. The morale is strong and we will keep fighting hard to score as many points as we can in these early races.

“The upcoming weekend in China will be an interesting one. We will try and take some steps forward, based on what we have learned in Malaysia, and we will go to Shanghai targeting points. Formula One put on a very good show in Sepang so let’s hope for more close racing this weekend.

Sahara Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg goes to the Chinese Grand Prix having scored a sixth place finish here last season so the German will hoping for a similar race this season. Speaking ahead of the event ‘the Hulk’ commented:

Shanghai is a cool place. I always stay in the centre of the city and you can feel the buzz of the place. There is so much happening and everybody is very busy all the time.

“The track has a mix of everything – low, medium and high-speed corners, so it’s quite similar to Sepang with a big emphasis on aero performance. The quick corners are tough on the tyres and high degradation is a big factor in this race. The never-ending turn one also takes the life out of the tyres, especially the front left.

“It's a fun track to drive and a challenge to get right. I’m not going there with any big expectations, but we’ve got to believe we can fight for some points. It wasn’t possible in Malaysia, but we certainly put up a good fight and will keep working hard. I think our performance level will be similar this weekend.

Sergio ‘Checco’ Perez goes into this weekend’s race having finished the event here last year in 9th place so he, like team mate Hulkenberg will be hoping for a similar result this season. Speaking ahead of the race, Checco said:

‘I’m looking forward to this weekend and getting back in the car. The first two races have not been the easiest for me, but as a team we’ve been fighting hard and doing all that we can to find more performance. We have lots of areas to improve, but it’s a long season and it feels like we are moving in the right direction.

“Shanghai has never been the luckiest circuit for me. It was only last year that I scored my first points there. It’s a track that I enjoy because of the unusual characteristics. Turn one is a real challenge, especially in qualifying because you need to carry so much speed into the corner, but it’s easy to run wide and lose a lot of time.

“The long back straight is also interesting because you get a lot of drag races. It’s where horsepower and top speed are important. Sometimes you see three cars wide and lots over overtaking into the hairpin. It’s definitely the best passing opportunity of the lap.

© Ben Johnston 2015

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