London: The Force India Formula One racing
team has shrugged off its place among the minnows and joined
the elite group battling for points - and soon podium
positions, according to in-form driver Vitantonio Liuzzi.
The 29-year-old Italian and his Force India team-mate
Adrian Sutil have scored points in three of the four
season-opening Grands Prix and looked fast in qualifying.
Now, with the progressive backing of team owner Dr Vijay
Mallya, who is also chairman of both United Breweries and
Kingfisher Airlines, as well as owner of the Bangalore Royal
Challengers in cricket`s Indian Premier League, Liuzzi reckons
Force India are set to grow even stronger.
Mallya has declared it is his ambition to see his team
fighting for a victory next year when India`s inaugural Grand
Prix is due to take place at a purpose-built facility near
Delhi, and Liuzzi believes the team is on course to realise
"When you start having results and you start scoring
points, then you feel much stronger," he said. "You feel
better because you see your efforts have paid off. And also it
is good because it`s not just your confidence that goes up -
the confidence of the whole team goes up, too.
"That is an important thing, especially for a team like
our one. We are doing big things, we are scoring points
consistently and we have shown that we are no longer a small
team. These things keep you alive -- keep you believing and
keep you moving forward."
Liuzzi added that Force India has moved forward from its
promising end to 2009 - a progress that is evidence of how
strong the team has become.
But, he conceded, he knows also that there remains a big
challenge in keeping the improvements going to stay on course
with the team owner`s goals.
"Even last year I was saying that Force India will
surprise some people, because it has a really strong group of
people. There are really great people working there, great
technical people, great mechanics, and everyone is working
really well together," he said.
"It is the best team I`ve ever worked with in my short
career. It shows that the performance we are having this year
is not the result of luck, but we know we could be faster.
"We are at the moment achieving our target where we want
to be, but we need to push hard because the other teams are
not sleeping and the development after Barcelona will be
crucial for the remaining part of the season.
"We are pushing like hell to develop, because we think we
can get good results in the remaining part of the season as
well. It is nice to hear that teams like Renault are looking
at us. It shows we are no longer a backmarker team."