Giancarlo Fisichella lauded 'a great result' for Force India with a determined and competitive ninth position in the Monaco Grand Prix - but the Italian was nonetheless left ruing a slightly tardy getaway at the lights that he contended had possibly cost him the final point.

Having already - in company with team-mate Adrian Sutil - made history in qualifying the previous day when both Force Indias fought their way through to Q2 for the first time in the team's short history in Formula 1, Fisichella produced a superb and faultless performance on race day as well, proving to be the very model of consistency as he tracked the every move of the Scuderia Toro Rosso of S?bastien Bourdais just ahead of him.

Having ceded ground to the Frenchman at the start, though, the tight confines and narrow and tortuous nature of the Monte Carlo circuit - where Fisichella has twice before been a podium finisher, with Benetton in both 1998 and 2000 - would afford precious little opportunity to overtake.

Despite doing his utmost to find a way by, the Roman was ultimately forced to settle for ninth place at the chequered flag, less than two seconds away from Bourdais and meaning Force India's quest for its breakthrough F1 point - already dashed when Sutil heartbreakingly aquaplaned out of sixth position in the closing laps of the rain-lashed Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai last month - goes on.

"Ninth position is a great result for the team," the 36-year-old nonetheless enthused. "The pace was very good and consistent and I felt I was driving well, taking care of the tyres and putting in some fast laps at the same time.

"I just lost a position at the start and perhaps it was this that cost me the point in the end, but we have to be happy about today. It was a great step forward, to get two cars into Q2 and then to get within two seconds of a point. We need to keep pushing and be there all the time now."

"We had started on a one-stop strategy, which would have been okay but we used the super-softs tyre from the start and they grained up very quickly," reported Sutil, 14th at the close. "I had to pit and lost a lot of time there. That was it really - it was hard to come back from this. In the end I was doing some quick laps and had quite a good pace, so there are some positives and we can be happy at some aspects. There is more to come from us for sure."

The Silverstone-based squad's chairman and managing director Dr Vijay Mallya was similarly enthusiastic about one of his team's most impressive showings to-date in the top flight - and confident that this is only the start.

"This has been a very encouraging weekend all-round," remarked the Kingfisher Airlines billionaire. "We got two cars into Q2 and finished within a whisker of the points, and all on merit. We've incremented our performance and raced it well this weekend, and we know we have more upgrades in the pipeline, which is a great motivating factor.

"I would like to say thank you to both drivers for keeping focussed and pushing so hard, and to the entire team at the track and at the factory for keeping the momentum going. If we continue on the path we have now laid before us, I am certain we'll achieve the success we all deserve."