Mallya: It’s a matter of karma for Force India, Sutil

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First off, those are Vijay Mallya’s words, not mine, although combining karma and Force India is certainly clever.

In an interview at the official Formula 1 site, Force India’s boss sounds in high spirits. And why not? His team has qualified in the top 10 and scored points in both opening races. (Maybe he also heard the F1B podcast this week in which Grace gives his team some credit?)

Q: Tell us something about your emotions during the Melbourne race…

[snip to midway through Mallya’s answer]

I was very, very disappointed when I heard on the team radio that Adrian’s engine had lost power, which is very unusual for Mercedes. But then these things happen in Formula One and in racing. It was very disappointing when Adrian had to retire, as he was going really well. Like in the last race, Tonio drove brilliantly, even though his tyres were considerably worn out, but he held on. He would not let anybody pass him, particularly Rubens (Barrichello) who had a set of new tyres. And once again I think he drove a great race, and finished seventh with six more points for the team, which is a great feeling, to be regularly in the points.

Q: Adrian is always the master in qualifying, but then Tonio is walking away with the points…

VM: Adrian is a very quick and great driver, so it must be a matter of karma – there is no other explanation. He – and Tonio – was quite capable of finishing this race, and finishing in a better position than he had started from, so this was just unfortunate. As we believe in karma in India, I have to do something about this.

I had to get the karma comment up here, so no one would think I was lying. That’s Vijay, all the way.

I am starting to think that either Sutil or Sebastian Vettel is the most unlucky driver in Formula 1, if not all of motorsports. I can’t decide if Sutil’s almost entirely losing out on points is worse than Sutil losing out on a championship. (OK, as soon as I write it down, it feels like Vettel’s the least lucky. But Sutil is making a charge for the title!)

He does go on to address a couple of interesting items, including the departure of technical chief James Key and the topic that, apparently, still is on everyone’s minds: the quality of the show.

Q: What does the departure of former technical chief James Key mean for the team?

VM: In this sport it would be unwise to say that a team’s performance only depends on one individual. James is top class and he contributed a lot. He left us for better prospects. But we have a very strong team in-house, and we have supplemented this team even more. These guys are continuing to develop the car even more and making it more and more competitive. I said that we would score points in 2009, and we did score 13 points – and also a pole position together with a podium finish plus a fastest lap. Now in 2010 I’ve said that we should regularly score points and we have achieved that objective so far, scoring points at both races. So I am quite happy about that and hopefully we will have both cars scoring these regular points.


Q: There have been many discussions about the current race format, whether it supports excitement or not. If you could dream up an ideal format, what would it look like?

VM: What people are basically commenting about is the predictability of the race result. You can’t really hope that there is a race incident, a safety car phase or a yellow flag. The challenge is to make it interesting without these things happening. And that I guess was the reason why the FIA has changed realistic technical regulations. But clearly in the last two races we have not really seen that excitement of overtaking. But let’s see as the season progresses.

And then he also addresses the looming Indian GP, which he slates for a late 2011 season spot.

Q: What are your personal hopes for the end of this season, knowing that in 2011 there might be an Indian Grand Prix?

VM: As per plan means that we score regular points, maybe a few podiums along the way, and become definite podium contenders for 2011. And as I understand it the Indian Grand Prix will be at the back end of next season, which should give us plenty of time – and there I want us to be on the podium.

I would have loved a question about his thoughts on Karun Chandhok’s race in Melbourne.


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