Mallya satisfied with consistency, wants more luck
17 July 2012
Force India team boss Vijay Mallya has said that he hopes to see his two drivers bounce back from a frustrating British Grand Prix and confirm their position as regular points contenders when the series moves on to Germany this weekend.
Neither Paul di Resta or Nico Hulkenberg managed to score at Silverstone - the Briton being taken out on the opening lap and Hulkenberg running wide on the final lap and allowing Jenson Button to steal the final scoring place - but Mallya is confident that they have the car beneath them to show well as the focus shifts from one 'home' race to another at Hockenheim.
"It was certainly frustrating that we didn't score points at Silverstone," the Indian noted, having seen his squad fail to improve on the eighth place it currently occupies in the constructors' standings, "We were really hoping to put on a good performance and were targeting a double points finish. The weather definitely played its part on Friday and Saturday, so we really couldn't predict accurately what to expect for Sunday. One car was set up for the wet and the other for the dry.
"The conditions would have suited Paul, who had the dry set-up, but, unfortunately, he made contact with [Romain] Grosjean and that was the end of his right rear tyre. You have to expect things like this in F1, but it's always disappointing when it happens to you.
"Nico did very well, although I wish he could have hung on to ninth. The bottom line is we followed a hard-hard-soft strategy. In the last stint, we asked the soft tyres to last 17 laps and Nico was under pressure to defend his position. It was a combination of tyre degradation and Nico making a slight error when he locked up the rears. I guess Alonso lost his lead to Webber because he followed the same strategy, and clearly the hard tyres were better at the end of the race.
"There was a lot to learn and, once again, the unpredictability of the tyres played a very important role. We will come back in Germany with a greater sense of determination. It's satisfying to see that we are consistent top ten performers, [but] we need that little bit of extra luck to get on the podium. Having said that, our immediate competitors didn't have too much luck either – [Sergio] Perez and [Pastor] Maldonado were both going well, but they didn't score, and Sauber didn't get any more points to increase their lead over us. We are still only three points adrift of Williams and 16 behind Sauber, so we have reasons to be optimistic going forward."
Mallya insisted that, with F1 not having graced Hockenheim for two seasons, and therefore not being able to carry any knowledge of how the Pirelli tyres will perform on the circuit, the weekend was wide open for one of the midfield teams to perhaps spring a surprise. Hulkenberg will carry the majority of the team's hopes on home soil, and is looking forward to getting back into a race seat in front of his fans.
"It's always a bit more special and it's nice that I only live one hour away so I don't have to catch a flight!" he grinned, having not raced at the Nurburgring last season, "The fans always support the race and help produce a good atmosphere, especially in the stadium section at the end of the lap. It's fair to say that Michael [Schumacher] and Sebastian [Vettel] are the main attractions, but the fans always show their support for all the German drivers.
"Hockenheim is where I had my very first car race in 2005, when I raced Formula BMW – and I won both races that weekend. Since then, I've raced there a lot in F3 and also in F1 with Williams in 2010, so it's a track I know very well."
Team-mate di Resta will be no slouch around Hockenheim, either, having spent a large part of his junior career racing in the F3 Euroseries and DTM. The Scot is determined to make amends for his early exit at home two weekends ago - only his second F1 DNF - by getting back into the points.
"I know the track well from my days in the DTM and am looking forward to getting out there in an F1 car," he admitted, "It's a fun circuit with some challenging corners and it's good for overtaking, especially the slow hairpin at turn six. My favourite part of the lap is the stadium, where you can really feel the energy of the crowd. The double right-hander onto the start/finish line is another special corner. It's difficult to get it right [but], if you have lots of experience on this track, you can gain a little bit of time through this corner.
"It was a shame to end the [Silverstone] race so early, but there's no point getting frustrated. It could have been such a good race because we had taken an aggressive approach with a dry set-up on Saturday and I'm sure we could have come away with points. The contact with Grosjean was very slight and just one of those racing incidents, but it was enough to cut the tyre and that completely ended my chances."