Force India do it tough on debut
Both cars from the new Indian-owned team fail to finish the first race of the year.
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2008 13:09 GMT

Force India's Giancarlo Fisichella got off to a flying start, but it wasn't what he had in mind [AFP]

Force India, the first Indian-owned team to start a Formula One race, were given a tough lesson in the realities of the sport when both their cars failed to finish the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne
Force India, which is co-owned by Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya, never expected to challenge the likes of McLaren and Ferrari for victory but were hoping to at least make it to the finish.
Italian Giancarlo Fisichella, former Australian Grand Prix winner, crashed out on the first corner, while Germany's Adrian Sutil retired after eight laps because of a hydraulic pressure problem.

"It was a very disappointing first race for Force India," Mike Gascoyne, the team's chief technical officer, told reporters.

"We missed a great opportunity to score points... and we have to look to get a better result in Malaysia [next weekend]."

"It was very frustrating because this was such a good opportunity to score points."

Giancarlo Fisichella,
Force India driver
The team's frustration at failing to finish the race was compounded by an unusually high retirement rate which saw just seven of 22 cars complete the event.

Fisichella, who had started from 16th place on the grid, made a clean getaway when the race began but came to an abrupt halt when he was caught in a first turn pile-up.

"I was very disappointed as I lost the race at the first corner because another driver came in like a kamikaze into my car," Fisichella said.

"It was very frustrating because this was such a good opportunity to score points."

Encouraging signs

Sutil, who started the race from pit lane after cracking a chassis in qualifying, managed to avoid the carnage at the first corner and got as high as 13th place before his day also ended prematurely.

"It was good while it lasted," Sutil said.

"In the opening laps, I could stay with the guys in front of me."

Force India raced as Spyker last season, scoring just one point and finished 10th overall in the 11-team championship after McLaren were stripped of all their points for a spying controversy.

Mallya bought the team in the hope that Force India would be on the podium when New Delhi hosts a Formula One race in 2010, but knows the obstacles they face.

Despite his disappointment at failing to finish the race, Mallya said there were still plenty of encouraging signs.

"I was very pleased with the weekend despite the frustration of going out early in this astonishing race," the Force India owner said.

"I was, however, very encouraged with the pace we showed in the practice sessions.

"Although qualifying was ultimately disappointing, last year in Australia this team was well off the pace, this year we were up with the midfield."

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