Force India team principal Vijay Mallya has hit back at Renault F1 chief Cyril Abiteboul, who claimed that small outfits will struggle to cope up with the 2017 regulations.
With a raft of changes to the chassis design and the introduction of wider tyres, Abiteboul was quoted as saying that independent outfits will no longer be able to challenge some of their more well-financed rivals.
"I think this season will also be an arms race, and I really feel for the teams who are under-resourced," he said.
"I believe that most of the car build budget of a Force India will be gone by now, just to cope with the new regulations."
Abiteboul’s words haven’t gone down well with Mallya, whose outfit finished fourth in the championship last year, behind Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari.
“I read an article this morning that Cyril Abiteboul said poor teams such as Force India are going to suffer in this arms race,” Mallya said during Force India’s launch ceremony at Silverstone.
“Well good luck to him - he may have to eat his words. It's not about the arms you have, it's about the quality of your machinery."
"If we did not dream big we would not have finished fourth in the world championship last year.To be in the company of Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari was a huge compliment in itself.
“We always dream big. We have never had conversations, even in private, that we cannot break into the top three.
"That is always going to be our objective.
Mallya was also full of praise of Force India’s driver line-up, which sees a change after three years of stability. While Sergio Perez stays with the Silverstone-based team for another season, Mercedes protege Esteban Ocon has been brought in to replace Renault-bound Nico Hulkenberg.
“Checho has been brilliant. He is a true racer, he is fearless, he has loads of talent and loves to go racing. He has been successful for us and I heard him tell us when he saw the car he has never been more excited about a car. That says it all.” he said.
“Esteban is a very talented youngster. When Hulk decided to move on, we spent a lot of time thinking through who we could hire as a replacement. Esteban tested for us before, we had data, we put him in the simulator and he impressed all of us – so we made our decision”.
by Rachit Thukral