Melbourne, Mar 10 (UNI) The Australian Grand Prix, which is the opening race of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship season will be a landmark in the history of Indian sports since it will mark the debut of Force India, the country's first ever first-ever F1 team.
Fisichella, who is one of the most experienced drivers on the current F1 grid, will lead the Force India team. He will be joined by Adrian Sutil while testing duties will be upheld by Italian Tonio Liuzzi, who will also be the team's driver throughout the season.
''Since I joined Force India two months ago it's been a very exciting time, both for the team and for myself,'' Fisichella said. ''I feel totally at home here, with both the engineers and the mechanics. It feels as if I have been at Force India for a long time.'' Fisichella, who won the Australian Grand Prix in 2005, was happy that he will make his debut with Force India in Australia.
''Australia is a good place for me to start the season and my Force India race career,'' he remarked. ''I won the race in 2005 and started in second place in 2006 and with a car that was not as competitive as we would have liked, I finished in fifth last season.'' ''I feel confident for this first race with Force India. My first target is to get into Q2, but then the final hope is to score Force India's first point in the championship. You can see that every test we have moved forward and made some good progress - at the last test in Barcelona in particular where our lap times confirmed we are going in the right direction with the car. I did two longer runs at the final test and was very pleased with the balance and consistency. The results matched our expectations and we found about half a second, and we know there is more to come, so everything is very positive.
''We have maybe another two to three tenths to come from new developments we have in the pipeline, which could mean a step forward and another few places on the grid. Looking at the other teams, under race conditions I do not think they will get away from us that easily.'' Adrian Sutil was upbeat about the prospects of Force India.
''This year we have a very good driver line-up, with a lot of experience. Having Tonio as the test driver too means we can make some good progress between races,'' Sutil said. ''You can see that the team is better structured this year, and everything seems to be going in the right direction, there is more budget, and we can develop the parts we wanted to last year, but couldn't because of resources.
''As we are using the same chassis as last year and are familiar with how it behaves, the focus has been on getting the new electronics to work with the car, understanding how the car works without traction control and trying to find the stability on entry and exit into the corners. We took some time trying to find the limit, but I am not worried about having the last tweaks so close to the start of the season; it just gives us more time to get it right in development.'' Sutil was happy to have Fisichella as his teammate,''For me it's a positive challenge to have Giancarlo in the team as he will push me, which is important for the future.
''It will be difficult, but this is what I need, as if you are pushed, you have to put in your maximum effort.'' ''My goals are to do everything possible to be better this year; to make fewer mistakes and get a few points. I want to help the team move forward,'' he stated.
The team's journey started back in October 2007 when Vijay Mallya and Jan and Michiel Mol bought the team from Spyker Cars N V.
The Australian Grand Prix will mark the race debut of the first Force India car, the new VJM01. The car, which is based on the Spyker F8-VII B-spec chassis, has completed over 6,000km in its pre-season testing programme with an average of 368km per day - more than one race distance - without any major problems.
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