Mallya remains optimistic ahead of Korean Grand Prix

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The 14th round of the F1 World Championship takes place this weekend in Korea and Vijay Mallya, the boss of the Silverstone-based Sahara Force India team, still wants his squad to overhaul McLaren for fifth place in the constructors’ championship this season, write Colin and James Beckett.

Force India dropped behind McLaren in the standings after the Belgian Grand Prix and, having been outscored in the last five consecutive races, the gap now stands at 14 points between the two teams.

However, Mallya believes Force India can still reverse the situation despite the fact that Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil have been able to score just three points since the British Grand Prix. Mallya believes the team still need to concentrate on getting the latest Pirelli tyres to work on the VJM06-Mercedes cars, which will be crucial to the team’s chances of success.

He said: “The objective has not changed. McLaren have a points lead over us, but they are not totally out of reach. As I’ve said before, turning on the tyres is paramount and we are working hard to achieve this. There are a lot of points on offer and we need to try and regain the performance level we showed in the first part of the season.”

Mallya does not believe the task will be easy though, as the Korean track has never been good for the Sahara Force India team, adding: “It’s never been our strongest track, although we did score some points there last year.

“It’s quite low-grip and the cooler temperatures make it a very different challenge. We will go there ready to learn as much as possible, try and improve our qualifying pace and come up with a smart strategy for Sunday.”

The Brackley-based Mercedes team are also looking for a solid performance in Korea, especially Lewis Hamilton, who is currently locked in a battle with Kimi Raikkonen for third position in the drivers’ standings.

Hamilton, who has only failed to score points once this season, said: “The aim for the team is to keep scoring as many points as possible. We believe we are in a good shape and although we don’t have the pace of the Red Bull cars, we could be in with a shout of good podium finishes this weekend.”

The part Bicester-based Toro Rosso team currently have Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne placed 14th and 15th in the standings.

Vergne said: “I am very keen to score more points before the end of the season. This will be very important moving forward for the team as Daniel is off to drive for Red Bull next year. It would be nice to score points in as many races as possible before the end of the year.”