Force India hopes to be in better shape at Suzuka

By on
F1 Grand Prix, GP Japan, Circuit Suzukajp

Just one week after the Singapore round of the FIA Formula One World Championship the Force India Formula One Team will be back in action, this time at the Japanese Grand Prix, held from 2 - 4 October at the legendary Suzuka track.

The circuit, close to the fourth largest city in Japan, Nagoya, is almost 6km long and features just about every type of corner, from slow chicanes to the awesome 130R - a sweeping left hander where cars reach up to 300kph in seventh gear while pulling 4 g. Since the track demands a medium to low downforce aero configuration, Force India is hopeful of a return to the strong form shown in the Belgian and Italian Grands Prix that required a similar set-up.

Dr Vijay Mallya, chairman and team principal:
How would you review the Singapore race - was it as expected?

"We knew that after the results of Spa and Monza we had set a high expectation for ourselves, but we were realistic that we would find it more difficult at Singapore. I was nevertheless a little disappointed that we struggled quite as much as we did and we didn't get into Q2 as expected. That said, we do understand the reasons why - Singapore is an exceptionally high downforce track and we have found this configuration difficult. Singapore is however the only type of track in the second half of the season like this so we had to make a decision to focus on the events where we could be competitive rather than putting resources towards just one event."

With this in mind, are you expecting a more competitive showing in Suzuka?

"Yes, definitely. Suzuka is more low downforce and should suit the car well. Plus both drivers know and enjoy the circuit so their confidence will be high. Tonio is now fully up to speed and has completed perhaps the most physical event of the year in Singapore. Adrian too has driven the circuit extensively so I would say we are feeling positive. I'd hope to see another Q2 and then let's see about points in the race. That's got to be our goal going forward for the rest of the season now."

Adrian Sutil (car 20, VJM02/01)
The next race on the calendar will be the Japanese Grand Prix. What are your thoughts ahead of this race?

"I'm really looking forward to this race. I lived in Japan for a year in 2006 when I was competing in Japanese F3 and I know the track very well as we often raced there. It's a brilliant drivers' track, quite difficult to learn, but very rewarding when you get it right. I think our car will perform well there as well - as we've seen, we are very strong on the low and medium downforce tracks and Suzuka should suit us well. I feel very confident on the track and in the car and I am positive this combination will bring us some good results."

Were you disappointed with the performance over Singapore?

"We knew Singapore would be difficult but we struggled a little more than we expected as we just couldn't find a set-up that worked well enough with the tyres. We didn't qualify as well as we wanted to and that really just compromised the race. I was very heavy at the start, trying to take any opportunity that came about, whether a safety car or rain, but then I got caught behind Alguersuari. He was very slow and I guess I just got frustrated and tried to find a way through. I'm sorry that Nick got caught up in the accident as well."

Tonio Liuzzi (car 21, VJM02/04)
It was always going to be hard for the team to follow Spa and Monza, but were you surprised how hard Singapore was?

"It was a really tough weekend for us. We could aim for a top position in Monza, and in Singapore we had to wake up, and there was no passing into Q2 with both cars. I had a lot of problems with oversteer in qualifying and I lost a lot in the last four corners, otherwise I should have been really close to Adrian. We've struggled with such high downforce levels since the beginning of the year, and a lot of teams brought big updates for this configuration. That's why we had a lot of problems, and we were never so competitive, but for us it was good to finish the race. For sure it's the most physical race of the year, so it was good for me to complete 61 laps. It was important to get myself back to speed and back to physical condition."

Do you think you are now back up to speed personally?

"I think for Suzuka we will be in better shape. Singapore was a circuit where it's difficult to get the feeling back, because the concentration is so high, and you have to try and stay away from the walls. It's not a normal situation. But doing the whole race helped me a lot. I think we are getting close to my optimum speed. Now I think we are ready for Suzuka. I've been there once in 2006 and it's a circuit I like. I'm more optimistic for there, because the configuration for our car is somewhere in between Spa and Singapore, so we should be more competitive. This year has been a bit of a crazy year but we cannot complain because we had two good races, Spa and Monza, and there are tracks coming up that will suit us more as well."

View from the pit wall

Dominic Harlow: "A welcome return of possibly the best 'drivers' circuit' in F1. The Suzuka layout is unique in that it is a figure of eight, and the Esses and Dunlop corners as well as the awesome 130R give a real roller coaster lap.

"It's been partially re-surfaced since we last raced there, so it will be interesting to see how the tyres behave in what has traditionally been a challenging event for them. It's important to have good aerodynamic efficiency and a stable platform to get the best of this track but we expect it to suit our package and drivers well."

Force India Japanese Grand Prix points of note

Although Adrian has never raced an F1 car in Suzuka, he has a lot of experience at the Japanese track after having raced four times at Suzuka in 2006 while competing in the Japanese F3 championship, which he later won with five victories. That same year he also made three appearances as Midland F1's third driver, one of which came at Suzuka.

Singapore was Tonio Liuzzi's first race finish for the team. He raced from 19th on the grid to 14th overall following a tough battle with Giancarlo Fisichella for the majority of the race. Tonio Liuzzi has raced at Suzuka once in F1, in 2006 with Toro Rosso. He finished the race in 14th position.

Between the Singapore and Japanese Grands Prix both Adrian and Tonio visited Tokyo, Japan, before heading up to Suzuka on Wednesday. The team arrived in Japan on the Tuesday after Singapore to turn the cars round, rebuild the garage and prepare for the Japanese Grand Prix. The turnaround will be a challenging one - after working on European time throughout Singapore the team will now have to switch to Japanese time, with only one day in between to acclimatise.