Monday, 4 May 2015

Sahara Force India Formula One Team Spanish Grand Prix Preview

(Sahara Force India Formula One Team)

The Sahara Force India Formula One Tem head into the start of the European leg of the season, the Spanish Grand Prix at the Barcelona Circuit De Catalunya following a mixed result for the outfit last time out in Bahrain.

Sergio ‘Checco’ Perez was unable to match his podium finish from there last season but managed to bring the VJM08 home in eighth place albeit one lap down to collect four valuable points for the Silverstone based outfit. As a result Perez is currently in 13th place in the championship on 5 points. Speaking ahead of this weekend’s race, Perez stated:

It's nice to get to Barcelona following a good result in Bahrain. The last race was definitely a bit of a confidence boost for everyone and we will try to keep up this momentum in Spain. At the same time we expect a more challenging weekend because the characteristics of the circuit are very different to Bahrain with a lot more high-speed corners.

“The weekend in Barcelona is always enjoyable. The city and the people remind me a lot of Mexico, and I really like the Spanish food. The fans also make this race special and I always feel a lot of support from the grandstands.

“As a track, Barcelona is a demanding place to drive a Formula One car, with both fast and slow sections. It’s a big test of the aero package – similar to somewhere like Sepang. Overtaking is never easy because it’s difficult to get really close to another car, so good track position really pays off. The DRS zones have made it a bit easier to overtake, but you still need to be quite a bit faster than the cars you are racing.’

Nico Hulkenberg returns to his day job in Spain this weekend following a successful debut with Porsche in the World Endurance Championship at the 6 Hours of Spa race. The German qualified for the eventh in third place and went on to finish the race in sixth place in the LMP1 category which was a huge achievement.

The Hulk’s attention now switches back to Formula One and following a disappointing race in Bahrain where he finished one lap down in 13th place, Hulkenberg will be hoping to score big points for the Sahara Force India Formula One Team. Speaking ahead of the race, Nico stated:

‘The Barcelona race is one of the best weekends on the calendar. The locals are passionate and there’s always a big crowd on race day, so the atmosphere is great. I always stay in the city centre and I really like the place - plus the food is really good: I love paella.

“We all know the Barcelona track really well. You have to think about how to approach a lap because it’s important to look after your tyres. If you take too much out of them in the first sector, you end up paying the price in the final one, so finding the right balance is the key. The first two sectors are fairly straightforward and they are the quickest sections of the track, while the final part of the lap is more technical and low speed.

“As a whole, there is a nice mix of different corners which makes this a very interesting circuit. Overtaking has always been difficult there, even with the introduction of the slow chicane at the end of the lap. The final corner is still fairly quick and it's difficult to follow another car closely. You have to lift to avoid running wide, and that usually takes away the opportunity for overtaking into turn one.

The Sahara Force India Formula One Team head to the Spanish Grand Prix in eighth place in the Constructors championship on eleven points, just one behind the Scuderia Toro Rosso TEAM. The Silverstone based outfit head into the opening race in Europe in damage limitation mode as they will not have a very big upgrade package for the VJM08 as they have a b-spec car coming for the Austrian Grand Prix next month.

Despite not having many upgrades for Spain, the team should be competitive here because the Scuderia Toro Rosso Team who at this point in the season are their closest rivals don’t have many upgrades coming to their car. Speaking ahead of this weekend’s race, Sahara Force India F1 Team Principal Dr Vijay Mallya stated:

It’s fair to say that we’ve had mixed fortunes during the opening four races. On the positive side, we’ve scored points in half the races and I’ve been impressed by the fighting spirit of the team. On the other hand, we know the VJM08 is not where we want it to be and that we need to work hard to unlock more of its potential.

“It’s still early days in the season, but it’s worth noting how closely-matched the midfield teams remain. There are times when we see up to ten cars within half a second of each other, which means that any improvements we can bring to the car will have a big impact on our results.

“Our pace has been improving with each race, but we will need to wait a little longer before we can make a big step. I’m optimistic about the updates we have planned and we are working hard to get them to the track as soon as possible. The priority over the next few races is to stay in touch with the teams around us. As it stands, fourth place in the championship is just 12 points ahead of us, so we need to keep fighting hard and picking up points when we can.

© Ben Johnston 2015

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