Force India boss Vijay Mallya says his team is closing in on fighting for a podium finish on the back of a strong performance in the European Grand Prix.
Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta both qualified inside the top ten on the streets of Valencia, and then took the flag in fifth and seventh – giving the Silverstone-based squad its highest points score from a race so far this season.
That result has also seen the team close to within a point of Williams in the constructors' championship and Mallya said there were a number of reasons why Hulkenberg and di Resta had been able to race strongly on the street circuit.
“We knew that this season's unpredictability has been mainly down to the tyres, so tyre management is critical,” he told the official F1 website. “Therefore we spent all our energy on Friday and Saturday analysing potential tyre performance in various track temperatures. That helped us decide to put one car on a one-stop strategy. It looked almost impossible, but we said that if we don't try it we are never going to know where the boundaries of the tyres are in hot conditions.
“Nico Hulkenberg was on a traditional two-stop strategy and had the opportunity to pit under the safety car. So guts and luck came together. We are really proud of the result, even though it was a bitter pill when Nico Rosberg overtook Paul (di Resta) on the last lap. But his tyres were old - and Rosberg had fresh tyres. But there is nothing to complain about. It was a good result and we've bagged 16 important points. We are only one point shy of Williams right now and 16 points away from Sauber, who have had podium finishes. So we are getting there. We are definitely on target. I want to finish fifth in the constructors' championship this year and - fingers crossed - it looks like we're getting there.”
Plans are already in place for more upgrades to be introduced for the team's home event at Silverstone, with Mallya insisting that the team was heading into the British Grand Prix with one aim.
“We regard Silverstone as one of our home races,” he said. “Our headquarters is just a stone's throw from the track. It is our home race in Europe and of course the Indian Grand Prix is our real home race in India. We will do whatever it takes to bring as many upgrades as possible to be even more competitive. That goes without saying.
“We want to be on the podium. I think we're close to it now.”