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Force India targeting podiums with new car 01 Feb 2013

Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM06. Force India VJM06 First Run, Silverstone, England, 1 February 2013. Robert Fernley (GBR) Force India F1 Team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Qualifying, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, 21 April 2012 Robert Fearnley (GBR) Force India F1 Team and Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India F1 with the new Force India VJM06. Force India VJM06 Launch, Silverstone, England, 1 February 2013. Force India VJM06 detail. Force India VJM06 Launch, Silverstone, England, 1 February 2013. Force India VJM06 front end detail. Force India VJM06 Launch, Silverstone, England, 1 February 2013.

Force India’s deputy team principal Bob Fernley expects the squad to be challenging for podiums with their 2013 car, the Mercedes-powered VJM06. The Silverstone-based team, who unveiled the new machine at the British Grand Prix venue on Friday, finished seventh in the constructors’ standings in 2012, scoring two fourth places along the way - in Belgium with Nico Hulkenberg and in Singapore with Paul di Resta. In 2013, though, Fernley hopes to see them building on the form that saw them briefly lead the final race of 2012 in Brazil.

“I would very much like to think we can start where we finished - it was very nice to be leading a race,” he said. “That’s probably a bit optimistic (for 2013), but I think we should certainly be looking at knocking on the door for podiums again. We missed out on them last year and that would, I think, finish our first five year programme perfectly before we go into the new regulations in 2014.”

Force India have retained the services of Paul di Resta for a third successive season, but have yet to announce a replacement for Nico Hulkenberg, who left for Sauber over the winter. Fernley conceded that the team is in no rush to appoint a driver to the second seat.

“The shareholders will make their decision in due course - we know who is on the shortlist,” he said. “We’re trying to put together programmes which are really going to take the team through a longer period than just one year. We need to be very careful where we’re going and the shareholders will take the time that’s necessary. I think we’ll probably announce the two remaining drivers - because it’s not just Paul’s partner, we have a very strong reserve driver programme too - probably before the Barcelona test (starting February 19).”

Di Resta, who finished 14th in the driver standings in 2012, is adamant that the current lack of a second driver will not hamper either his or the team’s pre-season preparations.

“At the moment it’s strange not to have a second driver or a reserve around, but it’s not hampering my preparations in any way, shape or form,” said the Scot. “I’m just fully focused on working with everyone in the team on what we need to achieve - which is a fast car. When they do bring somebody in I just want it to be someone who is fast and competitive, and somebody I can work with to develop forwards and to represent this team in the way we should.

“I suppose the team are relying a lot on me, but at the end of the day I’m the senior driver in this team at the moment because I’m in my third year. But essentially a lot of the stuff in the winter is driven by new parts and by different departments wanting to try different variations, it’s not all about set-up - you get into that at the end of testing and certainly in Melbourne.

“Now it’s more about getting through the objectives and making sure that you have a clear path to open up and develop avenues during the season.”

Di Resta put the VJM06 through initial shakedown runs at Silverstone on Friday following the launch, but will get his first chance to drive the car in anger at the first pre-season test of 2013 at Jerez in Spain from Tuesday.

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