Dr. Vijay Mallya has praised preparations for the forthcoming inaugural Indian Grand Prix at the end of next month, describing FIA chief technical delegate Charlie Whiting's latest track inspection report as 'very flattering' and revealing that as far as promoters are concerned, 'we can race there tomorrow'.
That last boast in particular is quite something given the litany of hurdles that race organisers have had to overcome, from ongoing disputes with farmers to delays in the construction of the Buddh International Circuit at Greater Noida close to Delhi and most recently tax and visa issues – but despite the swathe of negative publicity over the last few months, Mallya is convinced the 30 October event will be a resounding success.
“Absolutely, without a doubt,” responded the Force India F1 chairman and team principal, when asked if he is pleased with progress. “Charlie Whiting's track inspection report is very flattering. I was exceptionally proud to read his report. He said that everything is done to a very high standard, and he has asserted that there is no reason why the track should not be fully ready by the race. As far as the promoters of the track are concerned, they say we can race there tomorrow.”
Turning his focus towards this weekend's Singapore Grand Prix, meanwhile, Mallya admitted that 'it would be great to continue our strong run of results' in front of 'a big Indian community' there – and he hopes that the high-downforce nature of the Marina Bay street circuit will play to the VJM04's strengths and enable drivers Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta to do just that.
“That's what this team needed,” the Kingfisher Airlines billionaire reflected of FIF1's four points-scoring finishes in quick succession at the Nürburgring, Hungaroring, Spa and Monza that have vaulted the Silverstone-based squad above Sauber into sixth spot in the F1 2011 constructors' standings. “We were hoping for double points finishes in these races, but nevertheless, one car has scored points.
“Whether it's luck, I don't know, but whenever there is a first lap incident, Force India is inevitably involved in some way or another! Paul was eighth at Monza, though, and it is great to leave Europe and go to the 'flyaway' races in sixth position, as we have now overtaken Sauber. That was our objective at Monza – and we achieved it.
“Singapore is a great event in an exciting location, and I still believe racing at night adds some extra sparkle. The technical direction we all agreed on at the factory was to build a car for all circuits. This year's car probably has more downforce than ever before, and therefore less straight-line speed. However, we went well at Spa and Monza, and now we're going to tracks that require more downforce, which we have – so we're looking to continue this good performance for the remainder of the year.”