Part two of our pre-race media-bytes come from the midfield pack, specifically the teams of Force India, Sauber and from the very fringes, Lotus. Expect high hopes and more love for Turn 8.
It was a case of a bitter-sweet result last time out in China for the Swiss squad. Kamui Kobayashi managed to score points for the second consecutive race, but team-mate Sergio Perez managed to end up reading the sponsors on the rear wing of Heikki’s Lotus in the closing laps.
Kamui Kobayashi: “After spending some time in Tokyo I’m very much looking forward to the race in Istanbul Park. It is an exciting track and one of my favourites. Last year our performance was pretty good there, and we scored our first point when I finished the race in tenth. It was a relief for us and this feeling is still a nice memory.”
“There are a couple of high speed corners which I like, and I feel we should be quite competitive in Turkey. However, the corner I like most is the triple left hander which forms turn eight. Regarding tyre management, I find it difficult to predict how the situation will develop. The grip level at this circuit is normally very low, which means the cars tend to slide a lot. I believe it will be crucial to save the front tyres in particular so the wear is as low as possible.”
Sergio Perez: “In a way I feel for me the championship is about to start now with these next races on circuits I know. I have raced at Istanbul Park twice in the GP2 series and I find the track very nice. I especially used to enjoy turn eight a lot. With the Formula One car it will, of course, be physically demanding for the neck muscles, and turn eight will also be a special challenge for the front tyres. We will have to be careful with them. In any case I’m really looking forward to the Turkish Grand Prix and I want to bag my first points.”
With the exception of the Cateram tie-up, Lotus have been working hard on continuing to close up on the midfield. Spain seems to be the target the team is aiming to in terms of upgrades and pace, so Turkey is merely a stepping stone to that. Only being a lap down on the leaders in China, compared to the two of Virgin and Hispania, while also beating a Williams, shows how far they’ve come. Shame it was Maldonado.
Jarno Trulli: “Turkey’s another chance for us to keep growing as a team and after the short break we’ve had it’ll be good to get back into the car. The team’s been hard at work on the aero updates we’ll introduce at the Spanish Grand Prix and on a couple of mechanical fixes that will give me a better platform to really push on from. I want to make sure we can repeat the performance we showed in China and that relies on us having an error free Friday and Saturday and giving us the best chance to fight with the likes of Williams, Force India and Sauber.”
Heikki Kovalainen: “We’ve obviously been pretty busy since getting back from China and it was great to see so many fans turn out for us at Duxford last week. I had a really good day and it was cool to be given the chance to be the first person drive the Caterham in our team colours in front of everyone. Now it’s on to Turkey which is a circuit I’ve always enjoyed. People talk about Turn 8 being the most hardcore bit of the track but for me it’s not that big a challenge – our car should be ok around the whole lap and after having had more time to work on the next update, which we’ll see in Barcelona, the focus will be on getting the most out of the car in qualifying and showing the pace that we know is there over one lap.”
Force India have surprised many in their solid, if not spectacular start to 2011. Regular points seem to be an occurence, for Di Resta at least, and a consolidation of that wouldn’t be frowned upon by the team one bit.
Adrian Sutil: “It feels like ages since the last race, but it was good to have a short break to think about our start to the season, to analyse all the data and to relax a bit. In many ways the first three races were better than expected: we scored points and were always quite close to the top ten. As a team I think we did a good job and we’ve shown we have pretty solid reliability. The task now is developing the car and the updates we have coming look interesting so I’m excited to see how it goes.
For this weekend, I’m looking forward to racing in Istanbul and I enjoy going there. It’s a nice circuit: up and down, long straights and you can overtake. Turn eight is very special – a fantastic corner to experience in an F1 car because of the high g-forces. I think we will be quite competitive and once again the goal is to score points.”
Paul Di Resta: “I think the season so far has gone pretty well – very positive in terms of our performance from a team point of view. We know that we have work to do in terms of outright speed, but we’ve definitely maximised our strengths. We understand the car better now and that’s where we have made big gains from winter testing.
It was nice to have a break after China and I’ve been able to recharge my batteries before the European season starts. Racing at Istanbul will be a new experience for me because I didn’t take part in Friday practice last year and I’ve never driven the track. All I have to go on is the simulator work I’ve carried out in preparation for the event. Turn eight will be difficult, but the other corners are equally important for a good laptime. For learning a new track the simulation work helps and the team also provide me with as much information as possible. But I need to get an impression first before I think too much about it.”