Force India's Adrian Sutil and Paul Di Resta share their thoughts ahead of the Italian Grand Prix in Monza this weekend. The team has come off of a good result in Belgium which team owner Dr. Vijay Mallya says is a fair representation of their pace:
"Looking back on the last three races I am very pleased with the performances we have shown. Three strong points finishes on the trot have earned us 20 points and taken us a step closer to sixth place in the constructors' championship. It's a clear sign that we are delivering as a team on all levels and our season is now gathering some real momentum.
I particularly enjoyed the last race in Spa where the racing was excellent. I felt Adrian's seventh place was a fair reflection of our pace and a good recovery after our difficult qualifying session. At the same time we were fortunate because both cars picked up quite a lot of damage during the first corner and were lucky to finish.
The target now is to get both drivers in the points and I'm hopeful Monza will give us a chance to do that. The VJM04 worked well at Spa and the drivers were happy with the balance in low downforce trim. That's a good sign for Monza where we take another step down on the downforce levels.
Italy in September is a wonderful place to visit and is a great venue for a motor racing. There is a great tradition at Monza which, along with the passionate tifosi, helps make this one of the most enjoyable races of the season."
The news from Monza is a dual-DRS zone layout and the drivers will negotiate the circuit with the intent for more overtaking. Sutil's rookie teammate, Paul Di Resta, has never raced at Monza so how do both drivers feel about their chances this weekend?
Adrian on Monza
Adrian, what do you think of Monza?
"I enjoy it and I have good some memories there. It's where I had my best result two years ago when I qualified on the front row and finished fourth. It's a classic circuit, one of the old tracks, and you feel the history when you arrive there. And the Italian fans always give Monza a great atmosphere."
The team has been fast there in the past - do you expect that again?
"I think our car is more consistent on all tracks rather than just being strong on the quick circuits. Also, because everyone is now using DRS and KERS, the advantage of our straight-line speed is not so significant. It's still a fast car, but we were seventh in Hungary on a high downforce circuit and got the same result in Spa on a low downforce circuit. So it's a very consistent car now and I expect a good race at Monza."
There will be two race DRS zones - what do you think of that?
"This is very good for the racing because Monza has always been a track where it is difficult to overtake. Two zones gives us a chance to see lots of action this year.
Paul on Monza
Paul, is it true you've never raced at Monza?
Yeah, in all my years of racing it's just one of those tracks where I've never raced. In fact, free practice last year was my first experience of the track.
What did you think of the place?
I loved the track. It's so fast but you also need to be aggressive and use the kerbs to get the laptime. And because it's so low downforce, you have to adapt and drive in a different way. You need to be very precise on the brakes too, because it's easy to lock a wheel and if you miss your braking by just a metre it can cost you a lot.
You have family in Italy - does that make it a special race for you?
You obviously treat every race with the same importance, but some races definitely feel a bit more special if you have an emotional connection. That's the case with Italy because I've got family living there and some Italian blood in me!
What are your expectations for the VJM04 at Monza?
I'm fairly optimistic that Monza will suit us. In the past we were very strong there, but we have a different philosophy now and the car has worked well on all circuits. It's going to be another close midfield fight but I believe we can come away with some points.
The Italian circuit represents a different kind of challenge than the tracks the teams have raced on so far this year. It is fast with high-speed corners and daunting chicanes. It is the home of Ferrari and yet Force India have a methodical process in mind for the weekend. How does one prepare a car and team for the unique challenge that is Monza? Engineering Director Dominic Harlow discusses:
Dominic Harlow- Engineering Director
Dominic, how different is the aerodynamic package for Monza?
"Monza always requires a new rear wing. You run about 80 - 85% of your maximum downforce and there's a similar reduction of drag to about 75% of our total. The efficiency of the car goes up a little bit at those levels. Coupled with that, this is the first time that we've gone there with DRS."
When did you do the wind tunnel work for Monza, given the summer shutdown must have affected your schedules?
"It was at the end of June and beginning of July that we started to look at it. We test mostly at the higher downforce levels and probably spent a week or so just on Monza. The parts would have been released about eight weeks ago. Had we not had the shutdown, we would have turned that around a bit faster."
There are two independent DRS zones for the race - the start/finish straight and between the second Lesmo and Ascari. Did you expect that?
"It's interesting that the FIA hasn't set it before and after the Parabolica, on the basis that you might catch someone, maintain a minimum gap in the Parabolica, and then be able to make a pass on the pit straight. I guess they reasoned that was possible already and overtaking into Parabolica would be very difficult, so they've tried it in the other area for perhaps a larger laptime advantage for the trailing car. They are very rigorous in the method they apply to determine the zone and it seems to be working well."
With the Monza wing the DRS gain is less, but any extra speed must be useful?
"Yes, the effect will be quite a bit smaller, because the amount of downforce the wing is generating is less. You've got 80% of the maximum downforce on the car, but the reduction comes nearly all from the wings. Given that the wings are roughly 30% each of the overall load, with the rest coming from the floor, it cuts quite a lot of their authority."
We always look at rear wings at Monza, but how much does the front change?
"You've got to balance the downforce, so we reduce the capability of the front wing accordingly. Also, Monza is not a track that demands a forward aero balance because you want a reasonable amount of braking stability and entry stability, so we tend to run a little bit more rearwards and therefore less front wing. It's fairly easy to achieve that with a flap change."
We've seen recently that the car has been competitive on all kinds of tracks. Do you think you will still have an edge at Monza over the teams you are usually fighting against?
"I would hope that we've still got the upper hand. I think we've got nothing to fear, but equally there's no reason to be more bullish than anywhere else. Get it right and you'll go well, get it wrong and it's easy to mess up."
Last year's surprise performance from Force India on relatively fast circuits with little downforce required has also been an asset this year as well and there is no better place than Monza to shine.