We’ve been hanging out at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with the Force India team. At the the time of our visit, first practice on Friday had just finished and we were given a tour of the garage by the charming PR man Will Hings (below), as mechanics worked away on taking apart, inspecting and rebuilding the cars of Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil. Over to Will for the down low…
“Friday is the busiest day at the track, simply because there’s three hours of track running. At the end of the day they’ll change the engine and gearbox over to the race unit. Once an engine has done a race it becomes almost a test engine to use on the Friday. Because there’s no testing anymore this is the only chance you get to do track testing. The engineers will probably be here until three o’clock in the morning going through data.
“The mechanics are doing set up tweaks, maintenance work, checking things over really. It looks like there are ratio changes going on with Paul di Resta’s car. So far everything has gone fairly smoothly, there have been no dramas so far.
“We are the national team of India, so the Indian race [two weeks previously] was very busy. The drivers did a press tour of the country in Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi. It was quite a long week for the drivers.
“We all went back from India on the Monday after the race and the first set up crew travelled out on the weekend, so they only had four or five days back in the UK. The cars came straight here – they’ve not been back to the factory since Singapore which was about six weeks ago.
“After qualifying you can’t change the car; there are parc ferme conditions. We don’t really have much time between practice three [on Saturday morning] and qualifying [on Saturday afternoon], it’s only about two hours so you can’t make big changes. Tonight is when any work has to be done.
“It’s a big fight still for us. We’re 10 points ahead of Toro Rosso and Sauber, which sounds like a lot but it can easily disappear. We want to maintain sixth [in the championship]. Last year wasn’t great to be honest but we think this track will suit us more this year. It’s quite similar to Singapore where we had our best result when Paul came sixth. There’s quite a lot of slow corners here and the car’s more rounded than last year. It was always good on high speed straights whereas now it’s got a lot more downforce [for the corners].”