Nico, on Sunday you had a big smile on your face – how are you feeling a few days on…
I’m still smiling, to be honest. The result in Japan was not something I was expecting and I was especially pleased with the race pace and the balance of the car. It was not the most straightforward weekend so it felt good to recover things on Sunday and come away with some useful points.
The VJM05 performed well in Singapore and Japan, two very different tracks – that must be encouraging for the remainder of the season…
Suzuka was the track we were most worried about in the final part of the year and in the end we did okay. I think compared to the start of the year we probably understand the car a lot better and that’s helping us find more performance, and improve our race pace.
What are you expectations for this weekend in Korea?
I enjoy visiting Korea and the track is fun to drive. I didn’t drive there last year during free practice, but I have some good memories from 2010 with Williams when I scored a point in the very wet race. I think we can go there and get a good result because it’s a track that’s a mixture of everything: low-speed, high-speed and straights. The final sector feels just like a street circuit and it’s quite technical with some challenging corners.
Paul di Resta
Paul, we’re in the middle of back-to-back races in Asia – what have you been up to since Sunday’s race?
After a testing weekend in Japan I just want to get back in the car as soon as possible, so I’m pleased that I have the chance to try and bounce back straight away in Korea. I’ve spent a few days in Tokyo doing some light training and cleared my mind ready for this weekend.
Do you feel that catching Sauber is still a realistic goal with five races to go?
Mathematically it is realistic to take the fight to Sauber, but to get ahead of them we will need to be in the points at all the remaining races. Sauber were on the podium again in Japan, which makes our task even more difficult, but we are hopeful that the tracks coming up will be more suited to us – certainly compared to Suzuka. To beat them we will need to be on top of all the issues we had in Japan.
Are you feeling more confident about the car’s performance this weekend?
You never know until you get there and start running, but last year we had a good race and came away with some points. The first sector of the lap is mainly long straights linked by low-speed corners and those technical parts of the lap seem to suit us – as was the case in Singapore. Also, it’s just one of those tracks that I enjoy driving and I’m looking forward to getting the weekend underway.
Dr Vijay Mallya
Dr Mallya, last weekend the team scored points in Japan for the first time. How would you sum up the performance?
It was a decent weekend for Nico and a good recovery drive considering the issues we had on Saturday morning. It was unfortunate to have the grid penalty for the gearbox change, but I think seventh place was a fair result given our pace during the weekend. On the other side of the garage we underachieved with Paul, but it was not his fault. With the clutch issue at the beginning of the race he fell back significantly and his race was hurt badly as a result. If we had done a little better and had two cars in the points we would have been a bit closer to Sauber now.
Last year the team came on very strong at the close of the season – can we expect the same this year?
I think we are having a strong end to the season already. We have scored points in the last four races, including two fourth places, and we’ve already scored more points than we did during the whole of last year. Our car will suit some tracks more than others, but as long as we keep picking up the points we can keep the pressure on the teams around us. Korea should be good for us and hopefully Abu Dhabi and India.
As you say, both drivers have been close to the podium this year – that must be the goal in the final five races…
A podium has been goal since the start of the year. It’s what we need if we are to get closer to sixth in the championship. We’ve got two very competitive drivers and they’ve shown already that either one of them is capable of doing it under the right conditions. With five races to go there is still plenty to play for and we won’t give up until the chequered flag drops in Brazil.