On the eve of the F1 2011 World Championship campaign, a bullish Vijay Mallya has pronounced that Force India is 'still on-target to achieve our goals' in the sport, confident that the team has the drivers and the technical expertise all in-place to take another step forward over the upcoming months.
In its short history in F1 to-date since taking over the former Midland operation, FIF1 has finished tenth in 2008, ninth in 2009 and seventh in 2010. More significantly, the Silverstone-based squad's points tallies over that period have read respectively 0, 13 and 68.
Last season yielded 15 points-scoring results – three of which being double top ten finishes – as well as no fewer than nine appearances in the Q3 phase of qualifying, firmly establishing Force India as a respectable and consistently competitive midfield contender. Whilst it will be tough indeed to improve upon that again in 2011, following the completion of more than 5,500 kilometres of winter running with the new Mercedes-powered VJM04, chairman and team principal Mallya is convinced it is an achievable goal.
“2010 was an exceptional year for the team [with] 68 points overall [and] seventh in the championship, with only teams who had previously won world titles ahead of us,” reflected the Kingfisher Airlines billionaire. “That demonstrated that we are still on-target to achieve our goals – and this year, there is even more to be optimistic about.
“We have an experienced technical team that has the ingenuity, flexibility and drive to adapt to the new wave of rule changes, and we also have the tools and resources in our partnerships with McLaren Applied Technologies and Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines to aim even higher. Andrew Green, our new technical director, is responsible for the VJM04 and it has shown some promising signs during pre-season testing.
“We have race drivers who are hungry to take the next steps in their careers, whether that be points, podiums or wins. Paul [di Resta] proved his mettle in the DTM and for the team last year, making a valuable contribution to the development of the VJM04 with his simulation work.
“Nico [Hülkenberg] joins as test and reserve driver having taken pole position in Brazil in his rookie season in 2010, and we are glad to start our long-term relationship together. Adrian [Sutil] scored 47 points for the team last year and finished just outside the top ten [in the championship standings]. He is one of the most consistent young drivers, and we are very pleased that he is with us for a fifth consecutive race season.”