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Mallya takes setback in stride
« on: March 17, 2008, 01:45:34 AM »

Mallya takes setback in stride

Melbourne: Force India owner Vijay Mallya was unperturbed by the happenings on Sunday. “That’s racing… unpredictable and thrilling. The first race of the season is always difficult,” he told The Telegraph while trying to cool down with a glass of chilled soft drink at the Paddock Club after a day of high tension and excitement.

No doubt the flamboyant Mallya attracted more attention than his drivers. There was a mad rush for his autograph when the spectators were allowed to a pit walk before the start. Happily he obliged all, often coming out of the barricade to pose for photographs.

He wasn’t willing to show his apprehension since arriving at the Albert Park early in what was the team’s debut on the circuit. In the end, like a true professional, he was quick to take the disappointments in his stride.

The 2008 Formula One season got off to a poor start for Force India. Despite encouraging performances throughout the weekend, with the two VJM01 cars featuring regularly in the top 15, the Australian Grand Prix ultimately brought a double retirement for the two drivers, Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil.

It was all the more bitter after a surprising race that produced only seven finishers.

“I am very disappointed as I lost the race at the first corner because another driver came in like a kamikaze into my car. It was very frustrating, especially considering a race like this where there was a possibility to score lots of points. It was a good opportunity and I am really disappointed,” said Fisichella.

Sutil also couldn’t hide his discontent, especially after the encouraging start.

“A big disappointment, especially when I watched the race afterwards… but it was good while it lasted. In the opening laps I could stay with the guys in front of me and could overtake to get up to 13th position, but then the hydraulic pressure problem arose.

“I had to go back to the pits, so at that point my race was over. We have to hope for more in Malaysia, but I think we showed an improvement over last year, particularly over the longer runs in practice. I am confident we can really do better there.”

Mallya also felt for the team’s drivers. “Fisichella was unfortunate to be shunted out in the first lap. Sutil did well and was competitive. If he had managed to continue we could have had a great result.”

The team is looking at the positives. “Everyone has been surprised by the progress made by us — the timings at practice have been excellent. We can no more be considered as back-benchers. It’s a shame that we missed a point.”
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