Force India team boss Vijay Mallya says he is looking for his team to score points for a third successive F1 race this weekend in Singapore, although he admits that it will be a tougher challenge than either Spa or Monza.
The team picked up its maiden points finish in Belgium, with Giancarlo Fisichella taking second place behind Kimi Raikkonen having earlier qualified on pole position.
While Fisichella then left the team to join Ferrari, Force India maintained its form at Monza, with both Adrian Sutil and Fisichella's replacement Tonio Liuzzi qualifying in the top ten, and Sutil picking up his first F1 points with a fine run to fourth.
Those two results came at low-downforce circuits suited to the VJM02, but with further modifications to come on the car, Mallya said the target was to chase more points in Singapore – although he conceded that the night race would provide a larger challenge.
“Overall we are very satisfied that we've proved we are a competitive team and we can race with the best,” he said. “Spa wasn't a one-off. We still have four races to go, and I'm pretty confident that we'll put on a good show. Japan and Brazil will probably suit the pace of this car, and we have an upgrade coming for Singapore, so let's see how it goes. We have every reason to be pleased about the progress, but there's a still a long way to go.
“I'd hope we could be again in Q3 and racing for points. We have a new upgrade coming, which features some modifications to the bodywork, the diffuser and the front wing. Every upgrade we've introduced so far this year has really given us a step forward so I am hopeful that we will be able to maintain our recent run of form. We do know however that it's going to be tough as Spa and Monza were low downforce tracks and Singapore demands higher levels but we've set the bar high now. We need to keep pushing until the end of the season.”
Having finally broken his scoring duck in Italy, Sutil said he was hopeful of adding to his tally and that the whole team was working at 110 per cent in an effort to succeed.
“We've been in points-scoring positions before but then never actually got them, so to finally get a points' finish, and a good one, felt like we had got a good reward,” he said. “It was getting a little frustrating for everyone but now we can really start putting that energy into moving forward. When I visited the factory last week it had made such a big difference to everyone. They were all smiling and even though they worked hard before, it was 110 per cent effort now as they can see how everyone makes a difference.
“Singapore is quite challenging, with lots of corners and changes of direction but it's also quite fast, like a cross between Valencia and Monaco. I enjoy street racing and Singapore has that same feeling so I'm looking forward to it. Last year I didn't have such a great race but this year we are in a very different situation. My goal will be to be focussed from the start of the weekend, do some solid work in practice and qualify well as a good grid position is very important here. For sure it's then to get some more points. I feel we can definitely add to the total.”