Force India team principal Vijay Mallya hasn’t given up hope that his team can reclaim fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship from McLaren, despite the Silverstone-based team recently being overhauled by their better-funded Mercedes-powered rivals.
When McLaren hit trouble in the early half of the season while it tried to sort out its ill-handling MP4-28 challenger, Force India – with its tyre-friendly VJM06 – was a consistent points’ finisher and held a comfortable fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship standings after the opening races.
But the team was perhaps hardest hit by Pirelli’s decision to revert to a less temperature-sensitive Kevlar-belted tyre design, which took away one significant advantage that the team held before.
The team has only been able to add two points to the 59-point tally they had accrued up to the German Grand Prix (the final race under the previous tyre design), while McLaren has amassed 29 points in the same period to move five points clear of the Anglo-Indian outfit.
With the team forced to splits its financial and technical resources towards preparing for the 2014 season, the outfit’s task is now even tougher, but Mallya expressed his confidence that drivers Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil will take the fight to McLaren at this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix.
“It is going to be a close fight, but the good news is that McLaren still aren’t that far ahead,” Mallya said in the team’s Singapore Grand Prix preview press release.
“They only scored one point in Monza, so they are definitely catchable.
“We need to perform better, that’s very clear. We’re working hard to find more performance, but at the same time we’ve made it quite clear that we will not compromise next year’s programme. It’s always a balancing act, but we know what we need to do.”
Mallya has good reason to be confident for a strong result at Marina Bay. Last year’s race saw di Resta finish a career-best fourth.
“We’ve been strong in Singapore, especially last year,” he added.
“Hopefully that will continue, but we’ve got to get on top of the tyres to unleash the potential of the car. Points must be the target to keep up our momentum in the championship fight.”
Fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship would represent the team’s best result in its history in the sport, and it will come with the added bonus of a $35 million payment out of the Constructors’ Championship prizemoney.