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Mallya: Force India now strong midfield competitors 07 Jul 2009

(L to R): Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1 with Dr. Vijay Mallya (IND) Force India F1 Team Owner on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, Turkish Grand Prix, Race, Istanbul Park, Turkey, Sunday, 7 June 2009 Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Force India F1 VJM02 makes a pit stop.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, British Grand Prix, Race, Silverstone, England, Sunday, 21 June 2009 Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA) Force India F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, British Grand Prix, Race, Silverstone, England, Sunday, 21 June 2009 Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1 VJM02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, British Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Silverstone, England, Saturday, 20 June 2009

As the season approaches its midpoint, Force India boss Dr Vijay Mallya has hailed the team’s progress and predicted they could chalk up their first points very soon.

At June’s British Grand Prix the team’s upgraded VJM02 enjoyed a competitive showing with Giancarlo Fisichella finishing tenth, ahead of the McLarens, Renaults and BMW Saubers, and just under two seconds down on the eighth-placed Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen.

“To be beating cars like the McLarens, the BMWs, the Renaults says a lot for a small team like Force India,” said Mallya. “In Silverstone there were no luck stories, like it rained or some extraordinary event happened. This was pure racing and that's what gives me the confidence that we'll get there. I can only really say more when we actually get points in our pocket.”

“We were constrained by time in designing and building the initial version of the VJM02, and we had very little pre-season testing time. We knew we had to introduce a significant upgrade in Bahrain, then a more comprehensive upgrade at Silverstone. I think this upgrade showed that the car is now a true, strong midfield competitor.

And with Mallya now confident the team has made enough of a step forward to be counted as mid-field runners, he is optimistic that once they break into the points for the first time, the next logical step will be for them to score regularly in 2010, ahead of clinching a maiden podium in 2011.

“The bottom line is that we're there, and all that I had programmed for the team in terms of gradual improvement in 2009 is happening,” he explained. “Given our relatively small size, this is a great achievement and we'll keep going flat out up to the mandatory August break. I hope that we will score some points during the remainder of this season.

“Otherwise I'm more than just optimistic - in fact I'm pretty confident - that from 2010 onwards we will be in the points on a regular basis. And that leads me to believe that my often stated objective of being on the podium in 2011 isn't a pipe dream anymore!”

But before Force India target their first top-three finish, Mallya - and the rest of his team - are fully focused on breaking their duck. And with their confidence-boosting performance at Silverstone still fresh in their minds and with more upgrades scheduled to be brought to Germany this weekend, there’s a real hope that they could manage it at the Nurburgring.

“As we have had a longer gap between Silverstone and Germany the team back at the factory has been working very hard on consolidating the step forward we made at the last event,” he concluded. “We will have a continuation of the new front wing assembly we used in Britain and a new detail on the floor. The upgrades in Silverstone gave us extra performance and we'd all like to convert this into a points-scoring position in Germany.

“The commitment of the team and the guys in the factory is fantastic,” he concluded. “Not only are we running well, our preparation is also top notch. The entire team is so motivated now, they're going that extra mile. Everybody was pleased with the Silverstone performance, and I think this gives them the confidence that they can actually do it.”