Mallya: We have car to beat
7 September 2012
Sahara Force India team owner Vijay Mallya is confident that the Silverstone-based squad can triumph in the battle for sixth spot in the F1 constructors' championship, having closed the gap on Sauber in Belgium.
With two podium finishes, from Malaysia and Montreal, the Swiss team currently holds the upper hand, sitting 21 points ahead of Mallya's operation, which, in turn, overtook Williams, the other team in the equation, with a double top ten at Spa. With eight races remaining, there are plenty of points on offer and, despite having been out-qualified by both Saubers in the Ardennes, Mallya is optimistic that Sahara Force India can close the gap and reclaim the position it occupied at the end of the 2011 campaign.
"I remember, this time last year, saying that it was the most competitive season ever in the midfield – but this year has surpassed even that," the Indian admitted, "Sauber and Williams have been on the podium, and will continue to be strong in the remaining races, but, at the same time, I believe we have the car - and the team - to beat them. I also remember, last year, we performed better in the second half of the season, so I'm optimistic for the remaining races."
Mallya was delighted to see both of his cars back in the points at the Belgian Grand Prix, for the first time since Valencia, particularly with Nico Hulkenberg claiming a career-best fourth overall.
"I think it was probably our most competitive showing of the year in terms of race pace," he claimed, "Nico ended the race just a couple of seconds behind [Kimi] Raikkonen and came very close to the podium. The car was working well and looked competitive on the straights, [while], in terms of strategy, the pit wall called things perfectly and Nico did the rest by racing hard and making no mistakes.
"If Paul [di Resta] had not suffered with the KERS issue, I'm convinced we would have come away from Spa with even more points, bit it was the fourth race this year when we've had two cars finish in the points. I've been saying this is what we need to do if we want to catch Sauber and recapture our sixth place finish in the championship, so I'm hopeful we can carry this over to Monza - where we run with even less downforce."