F1 » 4 September 2013
Italian Grand Prix: Force India still up for McLaren battle
Despite falling behind its rival at Spa-Francorchamps, Sahara Force India isn't about to let McLaren rest easy.
Sahara Force India team owner Vijay Mallya insists that his squad has not given up hope of beating McLaren to fifth spot in this year's constructors' championship, despite having fallen behind their rivals after Spa.
With the Woking team struggling with its MP4-28 in the early part of the season, Force India was able to establish itself as the 'best of the rest' behind the year's four frontrunners, but recent results – following a concerted rethink in the McLaren camp – has seen the margin between the two teams not only close, but reverse, in recent races.
Both squads remain contenders for points at every race and, having seen one of his drivers taken out of the reckoning in Belgium, Mallya maintains that the fight is still on.
“We could have had both cars in the points, but for the unfortunate incident where Paul [di Resta] was taken out by [Williams' Pastor Maldonado],” the Indian reflected, “It's good to be in the points in the first race back after the break, [but] we've still got some more work to do because McLaren got ahead of us, but they are only four points ahead and that's not too much to catch up.
“I guess it will be a neck-and-neck race. McLaren have obviously spent a lot of time working on this year's car, and they have improved significantly, [whereas] we've stopped the development of the 2013 car and have focused mainly on 2014 because there are so many technical challenges for next year.
In past seasons, the back-to-back rounds in Belgium and Italy have been kind to Force India, and Mallya is hoping that the record holds true in 2013.
“We need to extract the best of what we have to maintain our competitiveness going forward for the rest of the season and, like Spa, the [Monza] track suits us, so we hope to be able to capitalise on that,” he stressed, “As I've always said, my direction for the technical team has been to develop a car that is competitive on all tracks, which is something we have achieved for the last few years.”
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