Sepang: Sahara Force India F1, buoyed by their best ever start to a Formula1 season, feel they are not far from their first podium finish since August 2009.
Adrian Sutil, returning after a forced one-year break from the sport, and teammate Paul di Resta finished seventh and eighth in the Australian Grand Prix last Sunday.
The exciting race saw Sutil leading the pack twice, before he was pushed down the grid. A Force India car leading the race was a sight which happened for the second time in a row as Nico Hulkenberg, now with Sauber, had led the 2012 season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix, until a collision with Lewis Hamilton.
As the F1 caravan gears up for the Malaysian Grand Prix round here during the weekend, team principal Vijay Mallya is confident that his men will keep up the good work.
"Last Sunday’s race in Melbourne was a great demonstration of how far the team has come lately, “to race against the established front-runners on merit shows the quality of our car, of our driver line-up and of the work everyone in the team is producing every day, whether at the factory or at the circuit. We have led the last two races and hopefully soon we will have a special result to repay all that effort," said Mallya.
Giancarlo Fisichella scored Force India`s lone podium finish with a second place in the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix.
What has given Force India encouragement for the races ahead is the fact that they were able to compete with the top teams in dry conditions at Melbourne.
"In the rain, it`s easier sometimes to be at the front and race with the top teams, but in the dry it`s more difficult and normally never happens. It`s amazing to see that it was possible in Australia and don`t forget that Nico led for this team at the final race of last year too. There are opportunities, and if you believe in it, you can take those chances," said Sutil, who’s doing his fifth season with the Silverstone-based unit.
Both the Force India drivers were in the points tally in Malaysia in 2012 season and the team is expecting a similar result at the Sepang International Circuit this year around.
Mallya had a word of caution for the team, "The 2013 Championship is just at the beginning, and it is important not to get carried away with enthusiasm. We will need to channel this positive energy into consistently good performances and continue to improve," he said.