Home - The Official Formula 1 Website Skip to content

Exclusive interview - Force India’s Vijay Mallya 30 Oct 2013

Dr. Vijay Mallya (IND) Force India Formula One Team Owner.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Qualifying, Saturday, 27 October 2012 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM06.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Race Day, Sunday, 27 October 2013 Dr. Vijay Mallya (IND) Force India F1 Team Owner.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Monza, Italy, Saturday, 7 September 2013 Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India VJM06 on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Race Day, Sunday, 27 October 2013 Dr. Vijay Mallya (IND) Force India F1 Team Owner, in the Team Principals  Press Conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Preparations, Friday, 25 October 2013 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM06.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Race Day, Sunday, 27 October 2013 Dr. Vijay Mallya (IND) Force India Formula One Team Owner on the pit wall gantry.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Practice, Friday, 25 October 2013 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM06.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Practice, Friday, 25 October 2013 Dr. Vijay Mallya (IND) Force India Formula One Team Owner.
Formula One World Championship, Rd13, Singapore Grand Prix, Practice, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Friday, 20 September 2013

After a strong start to the season, Force India have had a pretty torrid time of it of late, struggling to adapt their VJM06 to the revised Pirelli tyres. That all changed on Sunday with a double-points finish at their ‘home’ Grand Prix in India. But was that purely down to adventurous race strategy, or have the team really turned a corner? We spoke to the man in charge, Dr Vijay Mallya, to find out…

Q: Vijay, you ran a brave strategy with both cars on Sunday. Was that because you wanted to give the Indian fans a good showing from their ‘local’ team?
Vijay Mallya:
Absolutely. We wanted to do well at our home Grand Prix. We scored points at the first two races here and we wanted to score points again - if possible with both cars. We knew that the car had a good race pace, even though we didn’t qualify brilliantly, and the only way to assure ourselves of points was to have a very aggressive strategy. So we took both the extremes: Paul came in on the first lap and Adrian stayed out as long as he could and pushed the soft tyres also quite well until the end. Yes, it was risky in some respects, but it turned out well for us. One thing is clear: in Formula One, quite apart from the mechanical design of the car and driver competence, strategy also plays a very important part in determining the result. We are not the only team who has done this over the past season, but what I was telling my guys was we have to think outside the box. We cannot simply say that the tyres changed after Silverstone so we have to take constraints in tyre performance given the mechanical design of our car. That’s not us. It is true that it is too late to change the mechanical design of the car because we are already committed to designing the 2014 car - so that would be an easy excuse. But we are here for performance - and performance means points. I had to tell my team that we don’t have any choice anymore - we have to think outside the box. And that’s what we did: both cars again in the points.

Q: Force India have been in a mid-season slump. Presumably that was indeed due to the tyre changes since Silverstone?
VM:
Yes, it was. How can there be any other reason for such a strong performance literally falling off the cliff? This doesn’t happen normally. So yes, it was the tyres. At the FIA press conference on Friday, Monisha Kaltenborn of Sauber and Eric Boullier of Lotus both confirmed that the tyre changes after Silverstone helped them. They actually acknowledged that the change in tyre benefitted them. In our case it did the reverse. It worked to our disadvantage. But I do see all that as part of Formula One. (laughs)

Q: So was Sunday’s double-points finish just down to the brave strategy, or have you come to terms with the different tyres?
VM:
We are making baby steps at a time in trying to get the set-up right within the mechanical design constraints to optimize our performance. So yes, this input is taking place - race by race. Over and above those inputs, we also try to imagine out-of-the-box strategies.

Q: Three Grands Prix left: will these baby steps also work in the races still to come? And will Sauber stay behind?
VM:
I don’t want to talk about Sauber. We gained six points on them at the weekend - they were obviously hoping to gain six points or more on us, but fortunately it worked in our favour. I don’t know what happened to Nico (Hulkenberg) and why he retired, but he was going well until that point. But be that as it may, yes, we will continue to think out of the box, we will continue to score points and we will continue to make baby steps. This will be our strategy for the remaining three races.

Q: Force India are one of the few teams to have confirmed no drivers for 2014…
VM:
Force India are known to keep quiet on their driver line-up until December and I don’t intend to change that. I feel no compulsion to change that.

Q: But what are you looking for in a driver? Requirements can change from season to season…
VM:
That is not our track record, actually. If you see our track record, we’ve kept our drivers. We have had only one driver who expressed the desire to leave us after one year, which was Nico Hulkenberg, but other than that all the other drivers have always been very happy to stay. I believe in continuity, but of course I also need to be cognizant of the fact that 2014 is going to be a new year with new challenges. Not to ever say that our current drivers cannot cope with it, but I need to consider all angles before I finally confirm our 2014 driver line-up.

Q: Some teams believe pairing an experienced driver with a youngster is a good approach - to have the adept feedback and the young spirit. Could that also be the road for Force India?
VM:
If you talk about youngsters, we took Paul di Resta and gave him his first drive in Formula One, so we are used to this. But we will only take a talented youngster, who doesn’t bring money but who can bring points. That’s what we look at.

Q: What is state of affairs with Force India’s 2014 car?
VM:
We are well advanced in designing the 2014 car. We actually started at the beginning of May this year, so we have given ourselves enough time - and the development is going reasonably well.

Q: Force India will again use Mercedes engines next year. How is the cooperation with them? How is the information flow?
VM:
Mercedes have been excellent partners. We are using Mercedes engines today and the only thing that will change is that in addition to the engine we are going to use the gearbox as well - actually Mercedes is giving us the entire powertrain, not just the power plant. We were amongst the first to sign up with an engine partner (for 2014) and we are very happy with Mercedes. Mercedes shares their data with their own Formula One team and I would never expect Mercedes to disadvantage us in any way.

Q: So for the 2014 season, what would be your dream goal - and for what would you be satisfied with?
VM:
Ha, the dream goal would be to finish fifth in the constructors’ championship - and the compromised goal would be to finish sixth in the constructors’ championship.

For tickets and travel to 2013 FORMULA 1 races, click here.
For FORMULA 1 merchandise, click here.