Mallya targets fifth ahead of Singapore Grand Prix

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Vijay Mallya, boss of the Silverstone-based Sahara Force India team, believes the squad can still beat McLaren to fifth place in the F1 World Championship this year, writes James Beckett.

McLaren started the season poorly as Force India led the former champions in the constructors’ standings at the midway point of the season. However, since the German Grand Prix, Force India have struggled for performance and slipped behind McLaren after an indifferent Belgian Grand Prix.

At Monza, two weeks ago, both Force India cars retired from the race. The gap between the two teams currently stands at five points as the F1 circus starts the third-leg of the 2013 season with all European races having now been completed.

Mallya is confident his team can get back on the pace, saying: “It is going to be a close fight, but the good news is that McLaren still aren’t that far ahead.

“They only scored one point in Monza, so they are definitely catchable. We need to perform better ourselves, that’s clear.We’re working hard to find more performance, but we’ve made it quite clear that we will not compromise next year’s programme. It’s always a balancing act, but we know what we need to do.”

Mallya also believes it is vital for Force India to score points in Singapore this weekend, adding: “Absolutely, we’ve been strong in Singapore, especially last year. Hopefully that will continue this year, but we know we’ve got to get on top of the tyres to unleash the potential of the car. Points must be the target for this weekend to keep up our momentum in the championship fight.”