Vijay Mallya has set his Force India team the target of emulating the feats of perennial midfield rivals Sauber and Williams in achieving podium finishes this year so not to be left behind in the constructors’ championship.
Force India went into this season appearing to be the most upwardly mobile of Formula 1’s midfield teams after a strong points-scoring run in the second half of last year secured them their best finishing position under Mallya’s control, sixth, and also nearly overhaul the team now known as Lotus. But in addition to seeing Lotus regroup over the winter and remerge as bona-fide front runners, Force India has also seen major steps forward from two teams it finished ahead of in 2011, with Williams winning in Barcelona and Sauber claiming two podium finishes with Sergio Perez.
Force India’s best result, meanwhile, is Paul di Resta’s sixth place in Bahrain and the team is already 30 points adrift of Sauber in sixth place in the standings. Mallya insists such statistics must change soon if the team are to have a hope of at least matching its final result from last season.
“I think Canada showed once again that Formula One is hard to predict at the moment,” the team principal said. “It’s seriously competitive with seven different winners in seven races, all of which is great for the sport – I would certainly go along with that. But while it’s hard to predict, we still need to lift our game, especially if we want to target fifth or sixth in the constructors’ championship. Yes, we’ve had one of our best starts to a season ever in terms of points scored, but the teams around us have also performed exceptionally well.
“The teams that we have been comparable with in the past few years like Sauber and Williams have been on the podium, and I’m sure our time will come, as long as we get things right.”
Mallya, who was disappointed how a potentially big result last time out in Canada slipped through the team’s fingers after a strong start to the race with di Resta, added that it was vital that Force India started making the most of the VJM05’s potential before it was too late: “It’s something we need to do sooner rather than later because we are quickly approaching the midway point of the season. I hope we can recapture our form in Valencia, return to the points and demonstrate our potential.”