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Force India target occasional podium and top-ten finish

Last updated on: March 09, 2010 11:17 IST

After a fairytale 2009, Force India owner Vijay Mallya now wants the Formula One outfit to reach the next level this year where regular points and occasional podium finishes would be the order of the day.

vijay mallyaMallya said after a positive finish to 2009, the team is hoping to establish itself as a strong and competitive outfit, regularly challenging for points and podiums whenever possible.

"We finished 2009 on a real high note - our first-ever points, a podium and one place up in the constructors' championship. That is enough in itself to set the bar much higher this season, but we're really determined to take it to the next level," Mallya said ahead of Sunday's season opener in Bahrain.

"Regular points and the odd podium have got to be the aim and we know it is possible. I have a lot of faith in the drivers and the technical staff, I think we've got into a very good rhythm together now," Mallya said.

The liquor and aviation baron's words put the onus mainly on Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi, who have been retained as race drivers.

Mallya said the feedback he received from the entire team is encouraging.

"I have been very encouraged by the entire performance, both at the track and at the factory. The testing times gave very positive headlines, but it is very difficult to know where we are until we get to Bahrain," Mallya said.

"Certainly, however the initial reports from the drivers are encouraging and when that happens it's worth another three to four tenths - if they feel happy and confident in the car then that they can really attack," Mallya added.

Optimistic with this year's challenger VJM03, Mallya said, "The key point was that last year we had a good baseline car and we improved throughout the year in a very structured manner. In the second part of the season we were very successful - at times we even had a potential winning car - and with that in mind we went into the winter and developed this foundation as much as possible."

Sutil, meanwhile, was cautious about the Bahrain Grand Prix and the German said he would not be too unhappy with a top 10 finish in the season opener.

"Hopefully in the top ten and I think that should be possible. I would hope we could score a few points," he said.

"For everything else, it is very difficult to say what else will happen, but I am fine with any position within the top 10 - that's my goal for the moment," he added.

Liuzzi too talked about starting with some points under the belt in the first race of the season.

"For the first race we want to show that our winter work has paid off. Points are our target for the time being and getting into the top 10, as high as possible. Being realistic, a few points should be feasible and hopefully everything goes as well as in testing with good reliability for the first race," added the Italian driver.

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