Mallya targets Williams' fourth

Thursday 31-July-2014 09:54

Vijay Mallya believes there is no reason why Force India cannot take on Williams in the battle for fourth place in the Constructors' Championship.

For almost half this season, Force India held fourth place in the teams' fight ahead of a resurgent Williams team.

However, a spate of podium finishes for Valtteri Bottas has allowed his team to surge ahead. Williams headed into F1's summer break with 135 points while Force India have 98.

Team owner Mallya believes his team can claw back the deficit.

"Can we catch Williams? Yes, we can," he told the official F1 website. "We have to work hard at it as well, but as I just said, there's still a long way to go.

"They have done a great job and one should complement them for this - probably in the same way that we are doing well - unexpectedly - as a midfield, small team. The opportunity is there."

Giving his assessment on Force India's performances in the first half of this season, the Indian businessman feels his team could have done better in qualifying but reckons this season has seen a big step forward.

"It was pretty cool in those last couple of months to see some of the historically big players behind us. Leaving Sunday's race aside - where we were extremely unlucky - we've done pretty well. Sunday was the first race where we didn't score points.

"If I reflect on those first months of the year what I would say is that I'd like us to do better in qualifying. It was also an issue this weekend - probably if we had qualified better some of the issues wouldn't have come up.

"At some tracks - and Budapest is one of them - where you start from has a bigger influence on the result, because our long-run pace usually moves us further towards the front again. But, of course, I also know that you only score points in the race - and aside from Hungary we did score points in every single race.

"That is a huge statement for this team, which only a few years ago was struggling for a point. So we have taken a big step forward. But I always told my team to never underestimate the opposition, and we don't intend to. We must keep developing this car, as this same platform will continue into 2015. The competitiveness of this year's car will be carried through into 2015 as well.

"Yes, we've been in fourth position up to the eighth race, and we're now sitting in P5, which is fine. We did not expect that we would reach forth and maintain it right through the season. The difference in points between Ferrari, Williams, us and McLaren is still not so dramatic that we don't believe that with a better race we can move forward. So as long as we are close enough I am not worried at all. That is the nature of Formula One racing."

And with double points up for grabs in Abu Dhabi, Mallya says there is a lot to play for right to the very end.

"We must never forget that at the last race it's going to be double points, which can change everything again. There is a huge amount of unpredictability on who will finish where in the Constructors' Championship - and the Drivers' Championship - this year, so it's a question of focusing, keeping it going and making sure that none of the other teams are taking too much of a lead in front of us. Because we can always catch up - it's still a long way to go."

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