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Force India still competitive in Brazil – Szafnauer

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Paul di Resta  and Otmar Szafnauer

Silverstone based F1 squad Force India’s chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer says about the team’s 2011 season success. Force India locked sixth constructors’ championship.

Q: The team got both cars in the top ten in Abu Dhabi and extended the gap on its pursuers in the constructors’ championship. Did everything go to plan?
Otmar Szafnauer: “Yes, it was good to see both cars in the points again, and it was absolutely what we needed at this point in time. However, you can’t count your chickens until they’re hatched! We still have a race left. We’re still at risk, but the risk has perhaps diminished.”

Q: Recently we’ve often seen the team try different strategies, perhaps with one car starting on options and one on primes. This time it was really unusual as Paul made only one stop.
OS: “It was the optimum way to go, one car on one stop, and the other on two stops. We’ll never know what would have happened had we had them both on a two-stop strategy – for example, would Paul have been able to challenge Michael Schumacher more than Adrian did? At the end Adrian was just behind Michael, and had he come out ahead after the second stop, he would have stayed there. But ultimately there was nobody in that space between Adrian and Paul, so you can say that ultimately it didn’t hurt him.”

Q: Did you run Paul on one stop in case Sauber or Toro Rosso tried the same?
OS: “It did minimise some of the risk in case there were other one-stop runners, and having that be the right strategy. What you don’t know is how the tyres are going to react in the race. It often changes from Friday, when you run them for a long time, to Sunday. The track evolves and temperatures are different. Before you know it the soft and hard tyres come closer together – and when that happens you’re better off one-stopping.”

Q: We saw a good bit of teamwork when Paul let Adrian past.
OS: “It’s about staying sixth championship, that’s what we’ve got to focus on. We are a team.”

Q: You have a fairly healthy advantage your rivals, so it would need an extreme result to turn things around. How do you feel going to Brazil?
OS: “The gap is not insignificant, but it’s not insurmountable, so in Brazil we still have to do everything we can to get both cars in the top ten in qualifying and in the race. Things that are out of our control, like the weather, we’ll just have to see. The weather can throw up some unexpected results and in Brazil at this time it can rain, so it does happen.”

Q: Last year the team lost out to Williams at the final race. Was that a good lesson in terms of how important it is to keep pushing?
OS: “That’s exactly what we’re trying to do. We have to maximise our performance to the end. I think we’re in a better position than last year, but by no means are we guaranteed that sixth place, so we still have to fight for it.”

Q: Any thoughts on the specific challenges of Interlagos?
OS: “I think we’ll go pretty well there. Maybe we won’t have the same advantage that we had in Abu Dhabi, but we’ll still be competitive in Brazil. Adrian likes the circuit and is usually pretty quick there. If it is wet I think we’ll be quick too. We just have to do a solid job over the weekend, make no mistakes, and qualify and race well.”

Q: How would you sum up this season?
OS: “I think it’s been a successful year from a performance standpoint. We made strides from where we finished last year. We developed at a very high rate because we didn’t start the season as the fifth or sixth quickest team, but we are now. We had to make that transition throughout the season, which took a lot of work, focus and effort by the entire team. The good news is that we were able to outperform what we did last year, and more importantly we were able to pull ourselves together after we didn’t come out of the blocks where we wanted to be.”

Q: Finally Max Chilton and Jonny Cecotto Jr both drove at the Abu Dhabi test this week. Are you pleased with the way things went?
OS: “I think they both did a good job, they both appreciated working for the team, and we appreciated their input. They did well from the team’s perspective, and we wish them good luck in the future.”
Source: Force India


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