Currently in fifth place in the constructors championship after nine races so far in 2013, the Force India F1 team has performed beyond the hopes and targets of team principal Dr Vijay Mallya, the 57-year-old Indian industrialist said on Wednesday.

"I think the first nine races have probably exceeded the expectations we set ourselves over the winter," he said. "The first mission was to start the year well and that's what we've done.

"In fact, it's been our best start to a season ever," he continued. "We've shown good pace and had some excellent races. At the same time we recognise that we haven't made the most of all the opportunities and we've had our fair share of bad luck."

Problems with qualifying strategies - especially for Paul di Resta's car - have meant that the drivers have had to fight back to finish in the points, which they had done at every race in which they finished until Germany, which had been a disappointment for the team.

"But I prefer to focus on the positives and there's no doubt that the VJM06 is the best car we have ever produced and I'm proud of the hard work from everyone in the team," said Dr Mallya.

Although the team took part in the extended three-day Young Drivers Test/Pirelli tyre testing session at Silverstone last week, Dr Mallya said that the new 2013 tyre compounds being rolled out to all teams this weekend in Budapest was his biggest priority to get on top of.

"The priority remains the same as the Silverstone test: to get better understanding of the new Pirelli tyres," he said. "That's been a key factor in our strong performances so far this year so we need to make sure we continue to deliver good tyre management."

That's especially important at the tight and twisty Hungaroring, and even more so with forecasts suggesting temperatures will exceed 102F on race day.

"As a venue, the Hungaroring has not traditionally been our strongest track," Dr Mallya conceeded. "Paul scored points a couple of years ago and it's important to add some more to our tally this weekend."

That focus on continuing to accrue points at a steady rate is key to Force India's strategy of retaining its fifth place in the constructors championship ahead of the likes of McLaren and Toro Rosso, byt Dr Mallya conceded that it would take a lot of hard work to keep them ahead of the competition in the remaining races of the 2013 season.

"I would expect the remainder of the season to be more competitive than the first half of the year," he mused. "We've seen the progress of McLaren, especially in Germany, and it's clear we have a big fight on our hands to beat them in the remaining races.

"Toro Rosso have also looked more competitive recently so I think we will see tight grids and very close racing all the way through until the final race in Brazil," he added.


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