Q&A with Force Indias Sutil and Liuzzi 09 Feb 2010
Force India racers Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi discuss the teams new car and their prospects for the coming season
Q: Adrian, 2009 was a transitional year for the team, and you scored your best result in F1 to date. How would you sum up the year?
Adrian Sutil: 2009 was a really important year. I was very close to scoring points in a lot of races and, frustratingly, something always happened. So when we got to Monza, it was a pretty perfect weekend. I scored my first front row, my first points since 2007 and it gave me a lot of extra confidence. I was very happy when the success came and it was for sure a big moment in my career, the turning point. It's really different to start from the front row and race at the front and I feel it has helped me to grow. I know I need to follow it up this year now.
Q: How do you feel going into this year?
AS: I hope we will have a good season and I am pretty confident we will. We have had a good winter and a very good development programme so expectations are high. The car looks great, we did a positive step with the wind tunnel simulations but let's test and see where we are. I know we need to perform well and from my side I have tried to be perfectly prepared.
Q: What will your aims be this year, how do you intend to build on last year?
AS: 2010 is a really important season and we are very optimistic about going well. When you start a season you always want it to be better than the previous one and I think this year it's important to be consistent from the first race. It's the first time we have been completely on schedule so I feel this will be the first season when I can show from the beginning to the end what is possible on the car and what I can do. I'd like to be in the midfield and be competitive from Bahrain.
Q: This is now your fourth season with the Silverstone-based team. What does this stability mean for you?
AS: I feel really good in the team, it's like family for me as they know me very well, they know how I work and my strengths and weaknesses. With that kind of relationship they can really get the things that suit me and I have confidence in them to do it. At the end of last season I felt very good and it was hard to find a better option for 2010. Over the past four years we have of course seen many different changes but when Vijay (Mallya) took over in 2007 it was a step in the right direction. He's committed to go for it and he has his goals. Right now we're looking really good, we've sorted out all the issues and this winter has been a consistent working situation so it's a big advantage. It's nice to be one of the few teams who have stability now and can just focus on the racing.
Q: The competition is very tough this year, with new teams and more world champions in the field than in previous years. What are your thoughts on this?
AS: The competition of course will be really tough with four world champions in the field now - of course Lewis (Hamilton) and Jenson (Button) in the McLarens, Fernando (Alonso) in the Ferrari and now Michael (Schumacher) is back at Mercedes. I have a lot of respect for all of them and I'm actually really excited about being on the same grid, but at the end of the day they are your competitors. You can't hold them up as heroes or goals - when we're racing they are people you need to beat. If you do go well against them it will really lift you so I'm looking forward to seeing how I do.
Q: Vitantonio, it's finally a chance to get a full race season under your belt for the first time since 2007. What are your thoughts on this?
Vitantonio Liuzzi: After one and a half years in a test role, I feel really prepared, both physically and mentally for a full race season. My objective is to be as strong and consistent as possible and give good feedback to the team to help them improve. For sure scoring points as many times as I can is going to be the key and you never know, perhaps we can get something more as well if everything comes together.
Q: How would you review your five races in 2009? What did you learn?
VL: It was a great opportunity to learn the tracks and then get back to the rhythm of a F1 car. I was a bit disappointed with some races, but we knew that the car would suit Monza much better than the other types of circuit. We had a bit of bad luck as well, like qualifying in Brazil when I aquaplaned off. Although it was difficult to score points, it was important for me to show that when the car is performing well I am ready to bring the results in and I'm always the same, fast competitive driver I've always been. It was a good warm up for 2010.
Q: Do you feel this time round as a racer you're approaching it differently?
VL: In Force India I feel really good, the atmosphere is great and the team works well together. Even when I was in a difficult position last year as a test driver they were very supportive and I've built a good strong relationship with them. I feel like I'm in a family and for sure much better environment than I have been in the past. This year is a new start for me. I'm a different person from two years ago and I am approaching it from a different mentality. It's a different Tonio and I'm looking forward to what can come. I'm still young and have a lot of time in front of me so I just want to prove what I can do.
Q: Do you feel confident in the VJM03?
VL: I have to say that the team, looking at what we did last year, has done a fantastic job. They never stopped working on the 2009 car to push right to the end, but have been flat out for 2010 as well. I am really confident in the work they have done over the winter and we've built a car that can regularly be in the points. That's also my aim, plus to be more consistent and competitive throughout the whole season.
Q: With the new teams coming in, Force India won't be the smallest team on the grid any more. Is this an advantage?
VL: Yes, this is an advantage for us as we know how to operate on smaller levels that the bigger teams will have to get used to, while the new teams have a tough job to do. I think it will be a good season for us.