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Podium finish by 2010, vows Force India owner

The gold and white car has been christened VJMO1 after Mallya and Dutch co-owner Michiel Mol and Force India will make its bow when the Formula One season opens in Melbourne next month.
By HT Correspondent | AFP, Mumbai
UPDATED ON FEB 08, 2008 09:03 PM IST

Force India owner Vijay Mallya on Friday urged the cricket-mad nation to have faith in his new team in its debut season, even promising a podium finish when the country hosts a Formula One race in 2010.

"We will be on the podium by 2010 for sure," Mallya, a liquor baron and federal lawmaker, told reporters a day after unveiling the new Force India car here on Thursday night.

The gold and white car has been christened VJMO1 after Mallya and Dutch co-owner Michiel Mol and Force India will make its bow when the Formula One season opens in Melbourne next month.

"I urge all the cricket-loving fans in India to support the new team. I promise that you will not be disappointed," said Mallya.

"The task ahead is challenging. It will need a lot of hard work, sweat and tears to make an impression.

"But I am sure with your blessing, prayers and good wishes, Force India will be on the podium when India hosts a race in 2010."

The Indian capital of New Delhi has been provisionally awarded a Formula One race in 2010.

Italian Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil of Germany will be the Force India drivers in the opening season with another Italian, Vitantonio Liuzzi, serving as the test driver.

Fisichella, a veteran of 196 Grand Prix races, was eased out by Renault at the end of the previous season to make way for Fernando Alonso, who moved from McLaren.

Sutil, who finished 19th with Spyker last season, will be the number two driver.

Mallya said a budget of 120 million dollars had been earmarked for the team for the 2008 season.

India was hooked to Formula One when home-grown Narain Karthikeyan raced for Jordan in 2005 and test drove with Williams over the past two years.

The 18-race season in 2008 starts with the Australian Grand Prix from March 14-16.

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