Vijay Mallya, boss of the Silverstone-based Sahara Force India F1 team, is hoping his team will return to point-scoring form in China this weekend when round three of the F1 World Championship takes place in Shanghai.
Despite a delayed appearance for their 2015-specification VJM08-Mercedes, the team demonstrated good pace in the opener in Australia with both Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez in the points, although they were less competitive in Malaysia two weeks ago.
Speaking this week Mallya said: “The upcoming weekend in China will be an interesting one. We will try and take some steps forward, based on what we have learned in Malaysia, and we will go to Shanghai targeting points. Formula One put on a very good show in Sepang so let’s hope for more close racing this weekend.
“The first two races of the season have seen varying fortunes. After scoring points in Australia, it was more of a challenge in Malaysia where Nico and Sergio showed their fighting spirit and enjoyed plenty of TV airtime as a result. Both weekends were valuable learning opportunities for us as we work hard to improve our new VJM08 car.
“Everyone in the team deserves credit for the strong reliability of the VJM08, but there is a long way to go on the development path. We know the areas we need to improve and I’ve been impressed with the attitude of the team.
“The morale is strong and we will keep fighting hard to score as many points as we can in these early races.”
Hulkenberg, who is currently ninth in the Drivers’ Championship with six points, also believes the car is capable of challenging for a top 10 finish this weekend, adding: “I am not arriving in China with any big expectations, but we’ve got to believe we can fight for some points.
“It wasn’t possible in Malaysia, but we certainly put up a good fight and will keep working hard. I think our performance level will be similar to that of Malaysia this week.”
The Brackley-based Mercedes AMG Petronas team lead the Constructors’ championship after the opening two rounds courtesy of strong performances by Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in Australia and Malaysia.
However, following Sebastian Vettel’s shock win last time out, the team will be keen to reassert their superiority in China this weekend as they try to defend their world title.
Qualifying takes places on Saturday morning with the race to start at 7am on Sunday.