Force India Formula 1 chief Vijay Mallya believes Sergio Perez's podium finish at last month's Azerbaijan Grand Prix can act as the turning point in the team's year as it bids to carry momentum into the start of the European season.

Force India scored just one point in the opening three races of the year, but Perez was able to charge to third place in Baku after recovering from a first-lap clash with Sergey Sirotkin and benefitting from incidents for drivers further up the order.

The result vaulted Force India up the constructors' championship table, and Mallya feels it could mark the start of a change in fortunes for the team after a difficult start.

"Baku feels like a turning point in our season," Mallya said. "The podium has given us a huge boost and is just the result we needed. It helps us forget about the bad luck and missed opportunities from the first few races.

"Our speed in Baku confirms we are moving in the right direction. We understand the car more and we are taking steps forward at each race. With the podium it feels as though our season is up and running. We now have some momentum behind us.

"Let’s see what we can do in Barcelona where we will have more new parts to try on the car."

Perez is hopeful of repeating the team's impressive showing at last year's Spanish Grand Prix where he finished fourth, marking the team's best result of the season.

"Barcelona was our best result as a team last year so you never know what can happen this year," Perez said.

"It’s a track we know really well because of testing, but of course the car has changed a lot since the pre-season and it will be interesting to feel the difference the upgrades have made.

"Unlike in Baku, overtaking is quite difficult at Barcelona so we will need to be perfect in qualifying."

 

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