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Force India will score points in 2009: Mallya

March 22, 2009 21:59 IST

Force India team owner Vijay Mallya believes his team can recover from the disastrous showing in 2008 and aim to regularly score points in the upcoming Formula One season.

"I am very confident that once we get to Barcelona we will have a car that will regularly score points. Also another major step will be the introduction of the KERS system, which we plan to introduce in our cars from Barcelona onwards," Mallya said in Mumbai on Sunday.

The Spanish Grand Prix is the fifth race of the 2009 season after races in Melbourne, Malaysia, China and Bahrain. Force India are confident that the car will jump several notches higher and eye top-10 finishes with the addition of upgraded aero-dynamics and the KERS system in Barcelona.

The two drivers -- Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil -- have given their thumbs up to the new car, saying it has shown a lot of potential.

"Both Giancarlo and Adrian have told me that the 2009 car has a lot of promise. The mechanical platform is good and this is very, very important. I believe that the engineers at Force India have done a wonderful job to produce a car that has a good mechanical platform and has a lot of promise in it," Mallya said.

"2009 will be a defining year for Force India in terms of scoring some points and we are certainly on the right trajectory," he added.

The business-tycoon revealed that lack of testing ahead of the new season was a big hindrance to their plans, but the early signs have shown that the car is definitely reliable.

"Where we need to further develop and improve is obviously on the aero-dynamics front and we could have done with a lot more testing. We effectively had just 8 days of testing out of which the three days in Jerez... it was raining like the Mumbai monsoon, so we could not do the kind of testing programme that we would have liked to do.

"One thing we have done is that we have put a lot of miles in that car and fortunately for us, not fortunately but because of a very good team effort, our car is reliable. To expect the performance of a car that was designed and built in less than 120 days will not have reliability problems was not too bad an expectation," he said.

Mallya revealed why the team had such a torrid time in 2008 when they failed to score even a single point after the Indian took over the Spyker team.

"I think we inherited which was nothing more but a modified version of the 2007 car. We inherited and acquired of course a team that was under-funded with a shoestring budget so the luxuries of development were not there.

"Basically in 2008 we were making do or just about managing with a car that was actually a 2006 car, not even a modified version of the 2007 car. As both Giancarlo [Fisichella] and Adrian described to me it was almost like driving attack."

He applauded both Fisichella and Sutil for having fought their way through the season despite not having the best of cars.

"Congratulations to both of them that they actually managed to drive the car and finished the races that they did. Yet we came close enough on many occasions to scoring some points but luck did not favour particularly the heart-breaking incident with Adrian [Sutil] in Monaco where he was running fourth and Kimi Raikkonen crashed into him, but that is all part of Formula One and accidents do happen," Mallya said.

The Force India team got a big boost for the 2009 season when McLaren agreed to supply them the full set of engines, gearbox and the newly-introduced KERS system.

"It was very clear in 2008 that we wanted to buy a KERS programme from another team because we didn't have the resources to develop the KERS programme. It was very clear that we needed to acquire a seamless shift gearbox because we tried all the way through 2008 to make our own gearbox and it worked but it was no way near the tried and tested competitive equipment. We were looking for a complete one-stop solution and we discussed this obviously first with Ferrari, our engine suppliers and partners, who have been very good to us.

"Ferrari, citing lack of available man power and resources, said they would only give us the engine and they could only give us the gearbox only halfway through the season and they could not give us the KERS system so clearly we had to look elsewhere," Mallya said.

Harish Kotian in Mumbai