Force India in race for 3rd-place with Ferrari: Fernley

New Delhi: Force India are in good shape to fight Formula 1 giants Ferrari for third place in the team standings, said deputy team boss Robert Fernley on their battle against the Italian manufacturer operating on a much higher budget.

According to the 2013 figures, Ferrari and Red Bull spent in excess of 200 million pounds while mid-field outfits Force India and Williams spent close to 100 million pounds, giving enough food for thought on the contentious cost cap debate in Formula 1.

Fernely said the performance of Force India and Williams in 2014 has shown that results can be achieved with a limited budget besides vindicating his team`s stance on the need for a cost cap.

"We are competing consistently against a team like Ferrari, which operates on a budget more than half of what we use. It goes to show that the smaller teams can compete against the top teams," Fernley told PTI over the phone ahead of the the British Grand Prix this weekend.

Force India, who have scored in all the eight races so far, are fourth in the team standings ahead of Williams and McLaren and behind Ferrari, who are third with 97 points.

Fernley further said: "However, with so much disparity in the budgets, it is tough to be competitive against big teams in the long-run. That is why we feel it is high time F1 had a cost cap. The sport should be about intellectual ability rather than spending endlessly to be fast. A cost cap is important for the overall health of the sport."

Jean Todt, president of the motorsport governing body FIA, was forced to abandon cost cap plans from 2015 onwards.

"Well it is what is. It is pretty clear that top teams do not want a cost cap," felt Fernley.

Asked whether the lack of budget restrictions can have am impact on the future of smaller teams, he said: "Well you can survive in the current scenario but it is difficult to be competitive. Three-four teams spending significantly more than the others will perform better in the long-run."

The Indian Grand Prix is off the 2014 calendar, making British Grand Prix the sole home race for Force India, whose factory is a stone`s throw from the Silverstone Circuit.

Fernely said the team is aiming for its second podium of the season.

"We brought upgrades in Austria and we will continue to make the upgrades on the car for the next two rounds (Britain and Germany). There is no reason why should aim less than a podium for Silverstone. Having said that, we are still working hard to improve the car, especially Nico`s (Hulkenberg)," said Fernley referring to the German driver.

Hulkenberg has scored in every race so far despite issues with the set-up of his car.

"His results show what he can do if we give him the car suited to his driving style. It is something we have not been able to provide him yet," he said of Hulkenberg, who is sixth in the drivers` standings on 59 points.

Though the fifth-placed Williams have narrowed the gap to two points after a third and fourth-place finish in Austria, Fernley is not worried about their rivals` rise.

"The battle swings through the year. Williams had a good race in Austria and we had our most productive outing in Bahrain. I feel the fight for third place is between Force India, Ferrari and Williams but you can never ignore McLaren as well."

Amongst the number of rules ratified by the FIA last week, one will lead to standing restarts following safety car periods.

Fernley said the move will "improve the show".

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