Exclusive Q&A: Force India's Bob Fernley discusses the season so far
Team hoping to get back into top six in 2013
By William Esler. Last Updated: April 26, 2013 10:42pm
The F1 Show chat with Force India Deputy Team Principal Bob Fernley about their impressive showing at Sakhir.
After narrowly missing out on a podium finish in Bahrain with Paul Di Resta, Sky Sports F1's Rachel Brookes sat down with Deputy Team Principal Bob Fernley to discuss Force India's start to the season.
You came so close to a podium in Bahrain, that was a great achievement for the team.
Bob Fernley: "It was a great achievement, but it was a strange feeling as Vijay (Mallya, Team Principal) and I both looked at each other and we were a little bit disappointed. So even after a wonderful race and a great result, it just shows where the team are and were the expectations are within the team."
What were you thinking when you could see Romain Grosjean closing down on Paul?
BF: "We probably knew in our heart of hearts that it was going to be very difficult for Paul. It is not the easiest of tracks to hold someone behind on and with the two DRS zones it is relatively easy to overtake."
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Paul seems a much happier man in and around the car this year.
BF: "Well I think Paul is always a happy guy. He is very, very demanding on himself and equally on the team and that is why he is there - we expect that to happen. But I think he is now relaxed and probably a bit more at ease with himself with it being his third year in Formula 1 and he is starting to settle in and deliver."
Do you think he is a possible future World Champion?
BF: "Absolutely, you have to look at it and say probably at least 50% of the drivers on the grid today, given the right car and package, would be a World Champion."
So you think if he had been in the Red Bull over the last couple of years he would have been a World Champion already?
BF: "Absolutely, there is no reason why he and a number of others would not have as well, but certainly Paul could."
Sutil and Di Resta make contact in China
His team-mate this year is pushing him a lot - they are coming together on the track even. What do you think Adrian Sutil has brought not only to the team but also the relationship with Paul?
BF: "The idea of bringing Adrian in was that it would be as seamless as possible as to what had been happening between Paul and Nico and in 2011 when Paul and Adrian were fighting each other, it was equally close. So what we wanted to do was keep the pressure on Paul actually because each driver needs to be performing at their limit. They need to give us quite a tough time and we have to set it up that they are having a tough time."
The soft and supersoft tyres have been the topic of much discussion. What do you make of the compounds and how have your drivers found them?
BF: "We've found them ok. They perform well on the car - it is just a case of how long they perform on the car for. But that is the challenge for Formula 1 teams - we are supposed to have the best brains in motorsport and we need to make them work and we need to make them last and that is a combination of the setup we do on the chassis."
What would you be satisfied with at the end of the season?
BF: "I would probably be satisfied with making sure we get sixth place back, but I think there is a chance of fifth and I know our beloved leader would love to be fifth, so I will amend it halfway through the season if that is the opportunity. But McLaren will come back very, very hard and it will be difficult for Force India to resist their impact and their resources."