Force India team owner Vijay Mallya admits that his team faces a tough task if it is to retain fifth position in the constructors' championship after McLaren closed in again at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Although few considered the result at Suzuka to carry any importance in light of the accident suffered by former Force India test driver Jules Bianchi, all will have to turn their attention to the inaugural Russian Grand Prix this weekend, with Mallya keen to stop his squad sliding back into the clutches of its season-long rival.

"We are hanging on in there and we know we face a big task in the final four races to maintain this advantage," he admitted, "We are certainly motivated and will do all we can to add performance to the car and score points. In F1, anything can happen - we've seen it over and over again - and, with double points on offer in Abu Dhabi, there is all to play for."

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While Abu Dhabi will continue to focus the mind for those involved in championship battles, the addition of Russia to the schedule is as significant as visits to the likes of Japan and Singapore.

"It is an important race for us and for the global expansion of the sport," mallya confirmed, "Russia is an emerging market for F1 and it's big enough and important enough for everyone in the sport to look forward to going there.

"These huge markets are the kinds of places that we should be concentrating on, which is why I continue to push for India to be back on the calendar as well. We need to embrace these huge audiences where there is great potential to increase the popularity of our sport."

In the meantime, however, Mallya and Force India will make the journey to Sochi knowing that they are leaving one of their own behind in Japan.

"Everybody at Sahara Force India continues to send support to Jules and the Marussia team," he concluded, "We know Jules well having worked with him during 2012, and his recovery is the main priority at the moment."