Team boss Vijay Mallya insists that Force India 'has to deliver' during the 2009 Formula One season.
Mallya's Silverstone-based outfit was the only team not to score last season and finished at the bottom of the constructors' title race, but goes into the new campaign buoyed by a technical partnership with McLaren Mercedes that will see the new VJM02 benefitting from the McLaren gearboxes and Mercedes engines.
The late nature of that deal however means Force India will only kickstart its testing programme this week at Jerez but Mallya insisted that his team has to deliver this season and isn't there just to fill spaces on the grid.
“This is the year we have to deliver,” he said. “We are not here to make up the numbers; I want to be pushing all the way. To be brutally honest, I would not be happy if we didn't show some much improved, and much needed, performance. What we really set out to do over the winter was to put in place structures, procedures and partnerships that would give improvement, but crucially, no excuses.
"I would like to see a strong start, rising to points mid-season and a definite improvement in qualifying. Regular points finishes should be the aim.
"When we started as Force India at the beginning of the 2008 season we were quite pleased with the progress we made, we were midfield until we got to Europe. We showed some early gains and I was encouraged by the progress, but then in comparison to other teams I think it's fair to say that we flattened out. I am not saying we didn't improve, as I have often heard people say that Force India is perhaps the most improved team in the paddock, but clearly we did not improve enough.
“With this view in mind I did a lot of introspection and a reality check. I found that for many reasons that I had to make some changes to the structure of the team and to bring in some suppliers and partners I hoped would help us bridge that gap.
“We still have much to learn as a team, but I hope that the experience we gained in 2008 sets us up properly for 2009. We have a lot to be excited about; a new drivetrain package and great new opportunities within the 2009 technical regulations.”
Having stated he was hopeful that the McLaren Mercedes partnership would aid his team moving forwards, Mallya stopped short of calling the deal a 'blueprint' for smaller teams moving forwards, but said it was the ideal way to secure their future at a time when F1 is going through a number of changes.
“We can't say this is a blueprint for the way smaller, independent teams will conduct their affairs in future, but it is a very good way to safeguard the health of these teams right now,” he said. “We did not have sufficient resources to compete with the larger and manufacturer teams on many levels, such as KERS. We have not done anything that contradicts the word or spirit of the regulations, we have just used them to try to get the most out of where we are right now.
“I would like to think it is in everyone's interest for Formula 1 to have competition and more teams, and if partnerships exist that allow smaller teams to use their own resources more effectively and compete on a higher level, then surely that should be embraced.”