Force India team principal Vijay Mallya says his squad “will go to Shanghai targeting points” during next weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix, while also acknowledging the VJM08 still needs further development.
The Silverstone-based outfit had made the most of its delayed 2015 challenger’s strong reliability in Melbourne to record a double point finish in a season-opening race of attrition.
Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg could not repeat such feat in Malaysia as the pair finished a distant 13th and 14th respectively. However, both drivers managed to stay on the fringes of the points-paying positions in Sepang until each received a 10-second time penalty for causing a collision.
Despite deputy team principal Bob Fernley telling F1i that Force India will be in ‘damage limitation” mode over the next couple of races, Mallya feels a return to points is still on the cards in China.
“The first two races of the season have seen varying fortunes for Force India,” he said. “After scoring points in Australia, it was more of a challenge in Malaysia where Nico and Sergio showed their fighting spirit.
“Both weekends were valuable learning opportunities for us as we work hard to improve the VJM08.
“The upcoming weekend in China will be an interesting one. We will try and take some steps forward, based on what we have learned in Malaysia, and we will go to Shanghai targeting points.”
However, Mallya remains aware of the need to bring further upgrades to the new VJM08 after Force India could not launch its new charger before the final pre-season test in Barcelona.
“Everyone in the team deserves credit for the strong reliability of the VJM08, but there is a long way to go on the development path.
“We know the areas we need to improve and I’ve been impressed with the attitude of the team. The morale is strong and we will keep fighting hard to score as many points as we can in these early races.”
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