Back in late 2007, F1 began to hear the words 'Force India' for the first time as Vijay Mallya acquired the assets of the troubled ex-Jordan Grand Prix outfit which, at the time, was in the hands of Spyker.

It's a well-known fact that the efforts of Jordan's predecessors - starting with the Russian-backed Midland team, and followed up by Dutch car manufacturer Spyker - didn't set the F1 world alight, and Force India initially looked to continue that trend after failing to score a point in its debut season.

There was, however, one glimmer of potential stemming from now ex-Force India driver Adrian Sutil, who very nearly finished an incredible fourth at the Monaco Grand Prix.

Mallya recalls having to make many changes in key areas to effectively 'push the reset button' as his Silverstone-based squad headed into 2009, but knows that it was worth it.

"2008 consisted of watching and waiting," he told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, "The technology office made many promises to me then, but little was delivered. Therefore I had to make serious cuts in the engineering and management department. We had pressed the reset button.

"I defined new targets: in 2009, the first points, more of it in 2010 and, in 2011, we would regularly collect points and maybe the odd podium."

In a remarkable turnaround from 2008, Mallya's team has thus far achieved the goals he set, with the possible exception of becoming a podium contender by 2011, despite Giancarlo Fisichella's pole position and second place finish at the Belgium Grand Prix in 2009.

From there on in, the squad has regularly scored points, albeit with a few teething problems.

"What have we achieved?," Mallya asked rhetorically, "In 2009, we added 13 points to our account and the first podium with Giancarlo Fisichella at Spa. That was more than unexpected. Then, in 2010, we came in seventh place [in the constructors' championship]."

Moving onto 2011, Mallya remains not only proud of his team's magnificent sixth place finish overall, but also in the manner in which it was achieved, whilst battling the might of Mercedes and Renault. Despite that, however, he can't help but ask 'what if' following a couple of missed opportunities to finish fifth in the standings.

"We came in sixth, in spite of a tough start to the season, and, on one hand I'm happ, but, on the other, I'm frustrated, because we have lacked just four points that would have given us fifth place.

"We made serious mistakes in two races - in Montreal, where the driver flew off the track, and at Silverstone, where we gave away points due to poor strategic decisions. Nevertheless, we can be proud of ourselves."

Despite that, it seems the future looks bright for this still young team, which now has solid financial backing from Indian giants Sahara Group. With the ingredients seeming to be in place, Mallya makes no bones about revealing what he thinks may be possible.

"Why not?" he said when asked whether Force India can go on to achieve what Red Bull has, "With the investment of Sahara Group, we have strengthened our base. Subrata Roy's vision is to one day become as good as Red Bull - he is so excited that I must warn him that, in F1, there are no shortcuts."

by Simon Evans


Loading Comments...