We caught up with Force India drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta before the start of the 2012 season opener at Melbourne.
On the VJM05
NH: The car is not bad so far, it’s a good feeling. Everything is smooth within the team, but you know testing is a lot of speculation. You’re never quite sure what the other teams run – what tyres, what fuel loads, so... It’s still a bit unknown, where we are, but like I said, the feeling is positive. (Remember folks, this was just ahead of the Australian GP).
On expectations from the first race at Melbourne
NH: To have a good race! To finish the race and if we drive into the points that would make me certainly very happy. It’s my first race in a long time – first time on the grid, first start, first time battling with others. It’s quite a good feeling. It’s the pleasure of being on the grid again.
On Force India’s goals for 2012
PdR: Our ambitions are still to move up as a constructor. Last year we finished sixth, I believe we punched above our weight, so to maintain sixth is going to be a challenge. However, if everything is positive, I think we can make the next step. It shouldn’t be out of our reach. In all our runs we’ve found our set up is very positive. I believe with stability in our design office, with our technical partners McLaren Mercedes, we’ve been able to develop a car that’s succeeded. And on from where we finished last year, the main thing is to have reliability early on and progress forward throughout the year and hopefully the results will start to come from there.
On their future with Force India
NH: We’re looking at the future in terms of this year, but beyond that, after 2012, we’ll see what happens. Right now our focus is on the next couple of weeks, it’s quite an exciting time for us. But beyond that, there’s no thoughts there yet.
PdR: I think that’s right. I have a contract till the end of this year, and I’ll do my utmost at Force India this year. I want to be in a car that’s competitive, that I enjoy driving. With the partnership with Sahara, the investment in the team is going upwards. You certainly can never disregard where this team is going to be in the near future and it would be nice to be a part of that.
On areas of improvement for 2012
NH: I think we can improve in all areas. As a driver this is only my second year, I think there’s room for improvement everywhere. And as a team, I think the same. We want to reach our target, which is fifth in the constructor’s championship and we just need to have a very consistent year, a steady development curve through the year. Already the development other teams are showing is quite high. We’ve got to keep up with that.
On the staggered nose and safety concerns
PdR: Well there are eleven teams that have gone with the same philosophy and the cars have been performing well. Obviously the rules have been changed to make the sport safer and that’s what you get in Formula 1.
On the tyres for 2012
PdR: They’re certainly different, they’ve changed a lot. But the cars have changed a lot as well, so it’s difficult to get an accurate comparison. I think one thing is that the compound grades are a lot closer. What Pirelli’s achieved in Formula 1 has been good and this year we’ll see some aggressive, aggressive strategy and aggressive tyre wars.