Exclusive interview - Force Indias Giancarlo Fisichella 22 May 2009
The gap between pole position and last on the grid is closer than ever this season. That should mean a massive boost for the backmarkers, but with an in-season testing ban, finding those vital few last tenths of a second seems to be an impossible mission. Force India are the only team yet to score in 2009. However, with recent upgrades to the VJM02 - and KERS hopefully on the way for the German Grand Prix - Giancarlo Fisichella is cautiously optimistic the situation could change soon
Q: Giancarlo, how satisfied are you with your season so far? How satisfied are you with the car?
Giancarlo Fisichella: So far its been a tough season again. Actually we expected to be much more competitive - even looking for points - but unfortunately it is not like that, mainly because the car was ready quite late and then we found some problems with the downforce. In fact weve not got enough downforce. Weve taken a few good steps through the season, especially with the double diffuser in Bahrain. This really meant a good step forward and I have to say that the team did a good job, but it was not enough. We need another big step forward like that. Otherwise it will remain tough.
Q: Bahrain and Barcelona saw upgrades to the VJM02, and this weekend some more new parts have been announced. Can you tell us in what areas? And what do they deliver in terms of performance?
GF: Well, here we have very small updates. A few elements but in fact it will be small, unfortunately. We are waiting for the new front wing, which will probably be ready for Turkey hopefully. Thats all. Here it will be a difficult race weekend because here you need a lot downforce, which is what we lack right now. But here in Monaco you never know. It is a very demanding circuit and anything can happen here. Although a good grid position would be very helpful this track can turn everything upside down. In fact I have a very good feeling with this circuit - so lets wait and see what happens.
Q: In Barcelona, KERS seemed to be a helpful tool for slower cars to stay in front, as Ferraris Felipe Massa demonstrated. Monaco is not a KERS track, but when and where do Force India plan to implement KERS, to compensate for your lack of speed?
GF: Hopefully we will have it for the German Grand Prix. I expect to gain two to three-tenths per lap so I am very much looking forward to it. We will see if that is achievable in reality.
Q: This year the field is closer together than ever before. Force India have improved a lot from last season, but how difficult is it to find those missing tenths to close the gap further?
GF: It is very difficult. The team is really working very hard, they are pushing very hard, but it is not easy to find the right direction and to find tenths at every race. The gap between us and the other teams, even with the leaders in the championship, is closer. But it is still not enough to move forward on the grid.
Q: At the moment Force India are the only team not to have scored points. It seems to have been a mixture of bad luck and lacking that little bit of extra pace. When do you realistically think that points can come your way?
GF: Hopefully on Sunday. But realistically it is difficult - almost impossible. But then you never know. We need another big step, I would say in the half-second range, to move forward on the grid and have a better pace in the race.
Q: Ahead of this weekends race, team principal Vijay Mallya said that qualifying is the teams Achilles heel at the moment. What will you do to raise the bar on Saturday afternoon?
GF: Its true that the qualifying session is very important here, as its a track that does not allow easy overtaking. One of our major problems is getting the tyres warm enough during the qualifying session and that makes it very difficult for us. Our race pace is much better, so we can probably deliver a surprise. Anyway we will try our best.
Q: Last years Monaco Grand Prix was a highlight for the team with Adrian Sutil almost finishing fourth. Do you think something similar could happen on Sunday, considering the characteristics of this track?
GF: You are right, in Monaco you never know. If its wet, and the weather forecast says there is a chance of rainy conditions, then you need a good strategy to deliver a good race result.
Q: How do you see your future in Formula One racing? Force India test driver Vitantonio Liuzzi reportedly said that he has been assured of a race drive with the team next year
GF: Ah, thats good for him! Obviously I want to see an improvement with the car and I can assure you that I am still motivated, I still enjoy racing. Lets see what the future brings. For now, I am fully concentrated on this season.