Vijay Mallya thinks Force India can continue to challenge at the front of F1
Team second in Constructors' Championship after Bahrain podium
By William Esler. Last Updated: 07/04/14 12:46pm
Vijay Mallya is confident Force India can continue to challenge at the front of F1 after Sergio Perez's podium finish at the Bahrain GP.
Perez's third place was only the second time in the Silverstone-based team's history that they have taken silverware away from a grand prix - the other occasion being Giancarlo Fisichella's second place at the 2009 Belgian GP.
Force India sit second in the Constructors' Championship after three races and Mallya is hopeful that they can keep the pressure on the traditional front-runners.
"It has always been our motive," the Team Principal told Sky Sports F1. "I know our limitations, but I also know what we are capable of. I think for the last few years we have demonstrated that we always punch way above our weight and whilst others might be developing their car we aren't sleeping either.
"We are going to come with upgrades as well - we have a great base product, we have shown that in the last three races and hopefully we will keep the pressure on everybody else."
Vijay Mallya congratulates Sergio Perez on his podium
Having been cast aside by McLaren after just one season and been out-performed by Nico Hulkenberg in the opening two weekends of 2014, the pressure was on Perez to deliver in Bahrain, but Mallya says he never doubted the Mexican's ability.
"I made the decision to bring Sergio Perez on board this team only because I had a great amount of conviction and faith in his talent," he added.
"I feel that he was chosen by McLaren only because McLaren saw something special in him - I certainly did when he was at Sauber - and I am delighted to have him on board, delighted to have Nico Hulkenberg on board and have a great driver line-up.
"This team has done everything I have expected of it. I have said with our limited resources we will get better every year, I said that in 2014 we have a new chance and we have shown it in Australia, Malaysia and now Bahrain so I couldn't be happier."
Third was Perez's best result since the 2012 Italian GP and he says his fourth podium result in F1 was one of the most special of his career.
"It's amazing, this podium I told everyone on the radio that it was an amazing achievement," the 24-yaer-old beamed.
"This podium is one of the most special I have ever done in my career - especially after such a hard year last year, this is really a boost of confidence. It was definitely the hardest race I have had to get on the podium, especially at the end to keep the pace up when I knew the Red Bull was coming. It was an amazing feeling to cross the line.
"It was really tough as I had a bit of a disadvantage to Nico as he had newer tyres than I did - I knew that. I pitted early at the first stop as we were fighting the Williams' at that point and I just tried my best to get Nico back, that was the most important part of the race to get past him.
"Then I was pulling away comfortably from him and I thought 'okay this is looking good' and then the Safety Car came and we were two-stopping and I thought 'this cannot be happening to us.' It was really hard - at the restart to keep temperature in the prime tyre was really hard and at the first turn and I locked up with Nico on the outside and I was just trying to avoid him."
Next up for Force India is the Chinese Grand Prix where they have never finished higher than eighth. However, the long straights and numerous acceleration zones out of slow corners could suit the Mercedes power unit in the back of the VJM07.