Force India team boss Vijay Mallya says he is hopeful that the Silverstone-based outfit will be able to challenge for more points in the second round of the F1 season this weekend in Malaysia.
The team received an unexpected boost following the opening race of the season in Australia after Sauber pair Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi were excluded from the results, which promoted both Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta into the top ten.
Going into the Sepang race, Mallya said he was hopeful that both drivers would be able to fight for points on merit after a trouble free weekend in Australia, especially after a solid showing in the race twelve months ago where Sutil finished in fifth place.
“We were confident about our reliability ahead of the first race in Australia, but we were eager to continue work on improving our race pace during the free practice sessions,” he said. “We can now expect our cars to finish among the top ten and in the points. Both drivers drove exceptionally well and to score points from the start of the season is very encouraging. We shall be able to make some further developments to our race pace over the coming weekends, although I'm pleased with the progress of the VJM04 and all the hard work by the team at the factory. I am very much looking forward to the next race where I'd dearly like to see both cars coming home in the points once again.
“I think we have every reason to be confident, but the weather often plays a big role over the Malaysian weekend. Adrian drove a great race there last year and brought home ten championship points, so we have something good to build on. The VJM04 has shown us that we are capable of being in the points already, so let's hope we have a clean race this week with no incidents.”
While Sutil will be keen to add to the points he secured last season, team-mate di Resta will be racing a Sepang for the first time and the Scot said he was looking forward to building on the experience gained by running in Friday practice last year.
“I participated in FP1 last year, but did not complete a great deal of laps,” he said. “I really enjoyed the track, although the heat and humidity is much tougher than anywhere else we drive on the calendar. It will be interesting to see how we perform there and I am very much looking forward to my second race with the team.”