Vijay Mallya says he has plans to make Force India a regular podium contender in the light of team’s strongest ever start to an F1 season.
Force India took a surprised podium finish at the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix where Giancarlo Fisichella struck his VJM02 on pole before eventually finishing the race in second place, less than a second behind the KERS powered Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen.
While Force India has become a regular points scorer since 2010, it is yet to add another podium in its statistics sheet.
“We've still got some catching up to do if we want to be a regular podium contender. We've got our plans for that,” Mallya said.
“We've had our best start to a season in our history, since the Jordan times, and despite only one car finishing in Malaysia we are sitting in fifth in the Championship. Let's hope we put on a strong show going forward,” he added.
Mallya was delighted with the performance of Force India returnee Nico Hulkenberg who briefly led the Malaysian Grand Prix, before eventually settling in fifth place.
“He's got that huge competitive spirit in him and he's obviously hugely talented,” he said. ”In the wet, in the dry, whatever the tyre compound, he's there.”
“It's always nice to see a Sahara Force India in front! You can't just find yourself leading a Grand Prix by accident. Things have got to be in the right place at the right time, and you must be good enough to be able to be up there in front. “
Meanwhile, Hulkenberg had his heads down when asked when asked about his prospects at this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix despite the fact that Sakhir circuit pays more emphasis on outright power than aerodynamics, something the VJM07 is good at, thanks to the Mercedes V6 engine that sits at the back of it.
“Yes, but for the race we will drive at a very different time of day, when it gets cooler.” the German said” I think it will be easier for the tyres and tyre management, which is good for us in the car. In terms of performance I expect something similar to Malaysia. I think the aim must be for us to qualify in the top ten again and score some more points.”
His teammate, Sergio Perez is hoping to start afresh in Bahrain, following a disappointing weekend in Malaysia where he failed to make it even to the starting grid on mechanical grounds.
“It's a very good thing that the disappointment will only last a couple of days before we go to Bahrain, so I'm looking forward to it. The whole weekend in Malaysia was frustrating, but hopefully we can achieve a great result in Bahrain.”
“Last year I had a good race with McLaren and it was one of my best races. Also, I won there in GP2. Normally it's a good track for me, so I'm looking forward to it.”