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Force India confident ahead of Spanish Grand Prix
April 23, 2008 15:33 IST
The timesheet at the recent testing at the Circuit de Catalunya tells the tip-toeing newest kid on the Formula One block is now making rapid strides.
Force India team management, however, refuses to bloat or gloat even though the outfit remains quietly confident ahead of this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix.
Both the Force India drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil clocked up impressive timing in last week's testing on the same circuit in Barcelona which would host this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix. While Fisichella posted the second fastest time on day two of the three-day test, Sutil was third fastest on the final day.
Though both the fastest laps were set on the slick tyres -- without grooves and best in dry conditions -- meant for the next year, it still is an impressive show by the duo. Force India's chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne, however, is not going overboard.
"Both our fastest laps were set on the slick tyres available for 2009 that give a lot more grip but nevertheless, the progress we made with the 2008 tyres and set-up was very positive," he said from Force India's Silverstone base before leaving for Barcelona.
Gascoyne reckons the team is moving in the right direction and he says both the drivers would be upbeat as they go for the Spanish Grand Prix and the subsequent races.
"We were much quicker round the circuit than we were in pre-season testing, which is a culmination of all of the new parts we have introduced since the start of the season. I think we can go to Barcelona and beyond in a positive mood," Gascoyne said.
There was a marked improvement since the team last tested in Barcelona in February and Gascoyne believes the new aerodynamic package has made the difference.
"The principal reason for the improvement has been aerodynamic. We have a continuous cycle of development from the start of the season, as we now have our two 50 per cent wind tunnels working round the clock, our own in Brackley and then the Aerolab facility in Italy [Images], and the added support of the Lola tunnel.
"The programme is working very well and the development work they have done has transferred onto the car very positively," he explained.
Team owner Vijay Mallya [Images] has assured the team management that he does not expect them to wield a magic wand and win a race with this car. But he asserted that the team has to manage a podium finish when India hosts its first Formula One race in 2010.
While that gives the team enough rope, Gascoyne is elated that both the drivers responded well to the 2009 configuration in Barcelona.
"The initial responses were very positive. The slick tyres give much more grip as the contact area on the track surface is much larger, but the reduced aerodynamic grip reduces this advantage. As a result it makes the cars more physical to drive, but potentially more spectacular to watch," Gascoyne said.
"We have a lot of work to do for 2009 and we will only really have a good impression of where we are after the end of this season, but the first signs were pretty good. We are going in the right direction," he enthused.
Asked how bright he deemed the team's prospect with the 2009 configuration, he said, "It's still very early days yet and there is a lot of development work in the pipeline that we will have to test before we know where we will be. 2009 is for sure a good opportunity for us though as the new rules should put the teams back on a more even keel."
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