Force India has set its sights on Red Bull and Williams in 2016 as its hopes to build on its most competitive F1 season till date.
The Silverstone based team finished fifth in the constructors' championship last year, after introducing a major upgrade to its car at the British Grand Prix.
With Williams also powered by the same Mercedes engine, and Red Bull’s development work compromised by a delay in securing a power unit supply deal, Force India chief Vijay Mallya cautiously hopes that both the squads can be beaten.
“If you look at the second half of last year, after the summer break, we outscored Red Bull Racing by six points and were only nine points behind Williams - so we’ve got to begin the new season with those teams firmly in our sights,’’ Mallya was quoted in an interview on Force India’s official website.
The 60-year old, however, is wary of possible threats from the likes of McLaren (who are likely to receive a power boost from Honda), Toro Rosso (who now run a 2015 Ferrari engine) and Renault, who returns as a works outfit this season.
“At the same time, we are conscious of the threat from McLaren, Toro Rosso and Renault. All those teams have the potential to make big steps over the winter and will be scoring points.”
“I think it’s fair to say the midfield has never been more competitive and we need to work hard to stay at the front of that fight,’’ he added.
Mallya said that he was so fond of Force India’s 2015 livery so much that he didn’t feel the need to change it come the new season.
“I really like the livery we introduced last year. The car looks smart and contemporary, and reflects our partners and heritage.”
“Although I’m biased, I think our car is one of the best looking on the grid and that’s why I wanted to keep a consistent look for 2016. As they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’’ he said.
Force India has retained race drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez, with Alfonso Celis Jr serving as team’s new reserve driver.
by Rachit Thukral