Force India team owner Vijay Mallya insists that signing an all-new driver line-up for 2014 is indicative of the squad's determination to continue punching above its weight in the F1 world championship.

While admitting that he would have been happy to retain either Paul di Resta and/or Adrian Sutil next season, Mallya admits that he could not afford to pass up two drivers of the class of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg, with the pair coming in at the start of a new set of technical regulations.

"I could have retained either one of our existing drivers, but ... I consulted my other team members and they all said that we've got a new car and a new set of regulations, so let's get a new set of drivers who have got fire in their bellies and are really hungry," the Indian explained, "Sergio and Nico fit that bill. I'm very excited."

Related Articles

Although there were times when neither driver appeared to be free to switch teams for 2014, Mallya says that he was determined to land both as soon as they became available.

"My thought process was very simple. When Sergio drove for Sauber he certainly caught my eye. He was very quick and I guess that was noticed by McLaren. I wasn't very surprised - they are a world-class team, a very big team and, if they signed up Sergio Perez, they obviously saw something in him. I had also seen this but, well before I could even approach him, he had gone to McLaren. Which driver in Formula One wouldn't want to go to McLaren?

"I've always had my eye on Nico Hulkenberg. I told him as early as Malaysia 'Nico, if you decide to change from Sauber, you better come back home'. He said 'alright, I promise you. If I decide to change, my first option will be with you'. He stuck to his word - he told me he wanted to move and I said fine. I'm sure Nico talked to other teams but, at the end of the day, true to his word, I signed him up. I feel happy because he's driving for me."

The signings also buck the trend among midfield and back-of-the-grid teams of driver signings based on sponsorship and finances.

"I don't believe in the pay driver concept," Mallya insisted, "I've had many opportunities in the past where I was offered pay drivers - I was offered a lot of money - and I said absolutely not. That's not the philosophy of Sahara Force India.

"I will not compromise the quality of drivers for money. I will not let down all of my people in Silverstone who are so passionate about designing and building a competitive race car and then compromise the car on the track by taking a driver who is not the very best, simply because he brings money to the table. That's something I just will not do - it's against my basic philosophy."

Having run inside the top five of the constructors' table for the first half of 2013, Force India was badly affected by the mandatory change of tyres that followed the drama at Silverstone, but Mallya insists that the team has every reason to be proud of its achievements and retain its lofty ambitions.

"I think that the track record of performance speaks for itself," he said, "I'm very proud that, amidst my sceptics and critics when I set the road map going forward, I think we've achieved everything we said we would. In fact, I think we've over achieved. We have consistently punched above our weight - that is the mantra, the philosophy of this team.

"There's a huge amount of passion and a lot of talent in Silverstone, but more importantly there is a commitment and a hunger to succeed. I think the fact that we've signed two of the finest young drivers in F1 is a reflection of our own attitude. All the designers, engineers and everyone else at Force India feels the same way as our drivers: we are hungry, we're out to prove a point.

"I have to say that I was a very, very happy man up until Silverstone, when we were running fifth in the championship. We couldn't get on top of the tyre changes when they came about but, until then, to be running in front of a world-class team like McLaren was quite an achievement.

"We're throwing everything we possibly can at the design of the 2014 car and we were one of the earliest teams to sign a full powertrain package [with Mercedes], so all these things are helping and hopefully will work to our advantage."