Guest Author - Christine Blachford
Force India owner Vijay Mallya announced at the end of last week that he would retain both Adrian Sutil and Giancarlo Fisichella for the 2009 season, after being impressed with their work so far.
The team have yet to score a point this year, but have seen an improvement in performance from the team’s previous guises of MidlandF1 and Spyker. In Monaco, Sutil was running in fourth before being knocked out by Raikkonen’s out of control Ferrari. The team were visibly upset, but it showed a marked rise in the team’s ability to be competitive. Their best finish this year was Fisichella’s tenth place in Spain, and although they have been very unlucky, it’s clear they’re making steps forward. Being a backmarker can be difficult for a team, as collisions and reliability are often an issue. Between both drivers, they have suffered 18 retirements so far this year, out of 34 starts. This will be something they’ll want to improve upon for the coming year.
They will also want to get that vital point for the team, as they have come close a couple of times this year. Of course it has been more due to luck and good strategy, than real pace, but just a single point can be a huge boost to a team who are more used to being lapped each race weekend.
Sutil joined the team when they were Spyker, and is in his second year as part of the lineup. However, his progress has been lauded, and he has constantly outshone his previous team mates. This year, he was partnered with Fisichella, who was ousted from the Renault team at the end of 2007. The Italian has plenty of experience, having celebrated his 200th Grand Prix start this year, and having been on the top step of the podium 3 times in his 13 years of racing.
There have been rumours that the management at Force India has become fractured, with technical director Mike Gascoyne wanting to move in one direction, and team principal Colin Kolles preferring another. However, Vijay Mallya has already said it doesn’t matter if there are disagreements, his say is final.
Regarding the two drivers, Mallya simply acknowledged that he was very happy with their performance and he is glad of the consistency going into 2009.