Force India is bidding this weekend to maintain the momentum that saw it get both cars into the second phase of qualifying and one within less than two seconds of a points finish in Monaco just under a fortnight ago – with Vijay Mallya hoping that a range of further improvements will enable the Silverstone-based minnows to 'consolidate their form' in Istanbul.
After both Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil made it through to Q2 around the narrow, tortuous streets of the glamorous Principality – for the first time in Force India's brief Formula 1 history – the Italian went on to produce an even better performance on race day, in chasing down Scuderia Toro Rosso rival Sébastien Bourdais for the final point and coming up just 1.9 seconds short of eighth place at the chequered flag, arguably FIF1's finest showing in 24 outings to-date.
It was, chairman and team principal Mallya reflected, a proud and emotional moment – even if it was not one that he was there to witness first-hand as he chose instead to travel to watch his cricket team, Bangalore Royal Challengers, in action in the Indian Premier League Finals in South Africa.
“I think we can be very happy with our showing in Monaco,” underlined the Kingfisher Airlines billionaire. “All weekend it was a great team performance. Following a lot of hard work back at the factory, we ran a constructive, comprehensive programme during free practice and got the timing exactly right to have a superb qualifying.
“I would have been delighted with one car in Q2, but to get two was a dream. It then continued into Sunday's race, where Giancarlo was so close to that eighth place. I was so proud of everyone, and it's certainly very encouraging for the rest of the season.
“I know much has been made of the fact that I was not in Monaco to see the result, but as I have always said, I believe in giving people the means and the responsibility to autonomously carry out their tasks to the best of their ability.
“I think [Monaco] showed I have capable, confident people in the right positions and I do not need to be there looking over their shoulders. I can assure you, however, that I was 100 per cent behind the team and was very quickly on the phone to celebrate!”
The fast, sweeping, anti-clockwise nature of the technically-demanding and undulating, Hermann Tilke-designed Istanbul Park Circuit that will play host to the fifth edition of the Turkish Grand Prix, by contrast, will provide drivers and teams with an altogether different challenge, with dramatic gradient and consequent elevation changes throughout the 14-turn lap.
This time last year, Sutil and Fisichella both found themselves rooted firmly to the rear of the grid in the Bosphorous nation and only the former saw the flag, in a lowly 16th place, as the latter crashed out on the opening tour. Hopes are somewhat higher twelve months on.
“The result [in Monaco] has had a great motivation on the team and the drivers,” Mallya concluded. “We just need that little bit more. We have some new development items coming through, such as new front wheel spinners and a small modification for the rear suspension, plus the rear wing we ran in Monaco will also undergo some slight changes to suit the downforce level in Istanbul.
“However, the main thrust of the upgrades will come through at Silverstone now, so our aim for Turkey should be to keep the momentum we picked up in Monaco going and consolidate our form rather than [trying to make] wholesale improvements.”