Vijay Mallya has admitted that he underestimated the challenge that would be presented by Formula 1 on Force India's entry into the top flight at the end of last season - but has insisted the team will be far better-prepared and consequently far more competitive in 2009.

The former Midland F1/Spyker outfit has failed to score a point over the first twelve races of the current campaign - and has yet to break out of the opening phase of qualifying either as it continues to languish right at the tail end of the sport's pecking order.

That has led to whispers that there is increasing tension bubbling underneath the surface at the Silverstone-based squad, with talk of disagreements between team principal Colin Kolles and chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne, frustration at mistakes made by drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil and the realisation that significant progress is unlikely to materialise without significantly increased financial input.

Force India is already enjoying a greater budget in 2008 than has been the case for the team in its former incarnations of late, leading to the introduction of its new seamless-shift gearbox in the European Grand Prix in Valencia last time out that helped to propel Fisichella and Sutil closer to the midfield pack. Mallya is convinced that such advances will be considerably accelerated next year.

"One realises how tough Formula 1 really is," the Kingfisher Airlines billionaire is quoted as having said by F1SA, "and it reinforces the challenge that I have before me for 2009 to be really competitive.

"I now know precisely what I'm up against, so I can plan better. Maybe I learned the hard way, but it's good to learn. 2009 will be much more competitive for the Force India team."

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