by Rob Wilkins

TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH MIKE GASCOYNE: CLICK HERE

Force India may not have scored this season, but there have still been a few notable highs, including Adrian Sutil's drive at the Monaco GP, as well as more recently Giancarlo Fisichella's run in qualifying at Monza - when the Italian put the Silverstone-based outfit in Q2 for the very first time in its short history. Crash.net Radio spoke to chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne recently ahead of the Singapore GP...

Crash.net:
Mike, the race result in Italy may not have been very positive for Force India, but qualifying was a different story. How much of a boost was that for everyone?

Mike Gascoyne:
It was a very good boost. We said at the start of the year that one of our aims was to start getting into Q2. We never managed it last year and that was a clear aim for 2008. We came very close early on in the season but slipped back a little bit. But the last two or three races we have taken a positive step forward and it was enjoyable to get the car into Q2. In some ways it was disappointing though as we only missed out on Q3 by less than half a tenth.

Crash.net:
How far has the team come this season in your opinion?

MG:
The team has come a long way. It is unfortunate in Formula 1 at the moment that it is just incredibly competitive. We are the team at the back still but if you look at it we have closed up from being something like 3 seconds off the pace this time a year ago to now being 1.5 seconds off the pace, which in recent years would have been a good midfield performance. The frustration for us is that we are still at the back. I think the thing to remember though is that when we designed this car a year ago we were still Spyker and we had no budget. The team has come a long way since then as Force India and looking forward we can be very positive about the future.

Crash.net:
How pleased has the team been with the performances of Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil?

MG:
The drivers have done a pretty good job for us. At the start of the year, as expected, Giancarlo was very strong and really put Adrian under a lot of pressure. But Adrian has responded to that and in the last few races his performances have also been very good. He struggled in qualifying in Monza on his second set of tyres, but other than that he has been performing very strongly.

Crash.net:
What can the team achieve now in the remaining four races?

MG:
If you look at the last two or three races since the introduction of our seamless shift gearbox we have clearly taken a step forward in competitiveness. We want to maintain that and I think we have still got chances to pick up some points. Monza could have been one of those, it didn't turn out to be, but I think those chances - in maybe Singapore or Fuji - will come along again and we need to be there to take advantage of them.

Crash.net:
Singapore is of course going to be a new event and the first-ever F1 race at night. How much of a difference - if any - will it make in reality?

MG:
It is going to be a very interesting event. We are all looking forward to it. It is going to be a unique thing the race in Singapore with the nature of the track and with it being a night time event. It is quite nice this year with Valencia and Singapore to go a couple of new places.

Crash.net:
Will working at night lead to any changes in terms of how the team organises and approaches the event?

MG:
It is going to be difficult as we have got to work on a different time zone. But having said that we are very use to going into places for four or five days and coping with jetlag and I don't think it will really affect us.

Crash.net:
I would imagine a wet Singapore GP would present the best chance for Force India to break its duck and score a point or two?

MG:
Very much so and I think the forecast is for that. It rains a lot out there at this time of year and especially at night time. With Giancarlo at the weekend and in general throughout this year with Adrian we have proved that in the wet we can be very competitive.

Crash.net:
How are the teams' preparations going for 2009?

MG:
Like a lot of the teams we have switched our focus now very firmly to 2009. We did that very early on in the wind tunnel because it is a real opportunity for us as a team. As I say we have got vastly more resources to address to the 2009 car than we had in the past. Also with the rule changes it levels the playing field. We see it as a real opportunity and we are well advanced with that.

Crash.net:
Is the team likely to retain Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil?

MG:
That is probably fairly likely. They have done a pretty good job with what we have given them. I don't see that we are going to do any better than that. The mixture of youth and experience has worked well for us. Adrian will only get stronger with experience and Giancarlo has proved that he has still got what it takes.

Crash.net:
Will Force India use KERS - the Kinetic Energy Recovery System - during 2009 and if so, at what point in the season?

MG:
We are working with our engine supplier, Ferrari, on that. We will be using pretty much the same system as them. Whether we introduce it right at the start we will have to wait and see. But I think you will see it on the car fairly early on.

Crash.net:
What are the teams' targets for 2009?

MG:
Clearly we need to move forward solidly into the midfield. We definitely need to be getting into Q2 and on the edge of Q3 on occasions - and we also need to be scoring points not just as one-offs but doing it on a more regular basis. I think that with where we are we can certainly achieve that.

Crash.net:
The old Minardi team seems to have really stepped up, since being rebranded Scuderia Toro Rosso by Red Bull and of course won at Monza with Sebastian Vettel. Can Force India do the same in time?

MG:
I think it can. We have got a programme to build the team up and get sensible investment. The Indian market is obviously a very interesting one and India has got a booming economy. I believe if we can continue to grow the team and attract the sponsorship, we can be competitive in the future.

Crash.net:
Final question, who do you think will come out top and win this year's drivers' title?

MG:
Lewis is pretty strong at the moment and McLaren are doing a pretty good job, although they got caught out in Monza [during qualifying]. But I think Lewis' drive in the race was good and to finish only one place behind [Felipe] Massa having started from 15th, when Massa had started from sixth on the grid, shows he has got what it takes.

TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH MIKE GASCOYNE: CLICK HERE

Comments

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment