No excuses, Mallya demands point from team by end of season
Force India owner Vijay Mallya doesn't expect the Formula One outfit to set the world on fire in the first few races but he makes it clear that he would not listen to excuses if the team finishes without points in its kitty at the end of the season.india Updated: Mar 26, 2009 14:32 IST
Force India owner Vijay Mallya doesn't expect the Formula One outfit to set the world on fire in the first few races but he makes it clear that he would not listen to excuses if the team finishes without points in its kitty at the end of the season.
Mallya said he was not expecting points too early this season. But when he sits to take annual stock at the end of the season, Mallya said he wants to see a tangible change in the fortune of the team which finished its maiden season in 2008 without any point.
"With talent and enthusiasm I think we will score points, which will be a big step forward, but I don't want to put too much pressure on ourselves to set the world on fire," Mallya said ahead of Sunday's season opener at the Albert Park in Melbourne.
"How long did Ferrari take to win the world championship with Michael Schumacher? Five years. When I say that we are optimistic it sets a huge challenge for this team.
"Later on in the year however there can be no excuses; I demand performance and that will be measured by how many points we can score. We have made investments and given significant changes as the team requested and I now need to see a real change in our fortunes," asserted the flamboyant liquor baron.
Also Force India's team principal, Mallya said he had no prediction to make for Sunday's race.
"We can be reasonably buoyant ahead of Melbourne but there is no point in telling people that we will score points, we should go to the first few races and see.
"We should not make too many predictions ahead of the start of the season as what we have seen is that the field is still exceptionally close – closer than anyone would have thought, given the change in regulations," Mallya said.
"We know, as does the rest of the field, that the first four races are 'settling in' races so to speak, and we need to set a good foundation for the rest of the year," he added.
Mallya said the feedback from the drivers about the car that would be run on a Mercedes engine and McLaren gearbox made him upbeat about the season ahead.
"Given the time constraints we were under and the limited testing plan, I think we can all be very proud of what we have achieved. The drivers have said it feels very promising and if drivers like Giancarlo (Fisichella), with over 200 races under his belt, say it feels good it is very encouraging. We do know however that it is early days and it's not just about speed but about reliability as well," he said.
Asked how the McLaren-Mercedes partnership was panning out, Mallya said, "I think the partnership is working excellently now, and my confidence in it has been borne out by the comments that both the drivers and the team are making now. The car is much more balanced and has more mechanical grip and it seems to be taking root in the times we have been doing in testing."
Force India will not have the Kinetic Energy recovery System (KERS) in Sunday's race but Mallya was not particularly concerned.
"The decision not to run KERS for the first races of the season was taken fairly early on in the winter. Given the huge volume of work we have had to do since Brazil there was a conscious move to make sure that the whole engine-gearbox package was fully integrated and understood before we took the next step of introducing KERS, which is a completely new technology for our team.
"We are confident that the KERS we will receive as part of the McLaren supply contract is excellent and we are ready to run at a later stage, but we need to be confident that the basic fundamentals of the car are working correctly. Other teams are doing the same so we are not be alone in our thinking," he said.