Force India's 2018 turnaround "encouraging" - Mallya
Vijay Mallya says he has been “encouraged” by the way Force India has turned things around after a difficult start to the 2018 Formula 1 season.
Force India scored a solitary point in the opening three races of the season, but has since added another 27 to its tally to move up to sixth in the constructors’ standings.
A major update was introduced in May’s Spanish GP that went someway in solving correlation and rear-end stability issues that plagued the Silverstone-based outfit in the opening races of the campaign.
“After a third of the 2018 season, it’s encouraging to see the progress we have made since Melbourne,” Mallya said ahead of this weekend’s returning French Grand Prix.
“We are reaching Q3 regularly with both cars and picking up good points. There have been lost opportunities and we should have scored many more points, but it feels like our season is properly up and running.
“It’s great to see Formula One returning to France. The sport needs its traditional European races and it’s going to be a big weekend for Esteban racing on home ground for the first time.”
The French GP would serve as the home race for Esteban Ocon, who joined Force India in 2017 and been regularly scoring points ever since.
“It’s been my dream for years to be racing in front of my home crowd and now I will finally experience the fantastic feeling of a home Grand Prix,” Ocon said.
“In the last few races in Monaco and Canada we’ve been showing good pace so I hope we can be strong in France as well.
“On paper, the track should suit us, with a long straight and some slow corners where we can use our car’s mechanical grip really well.
“It’s a track which will be new for everyone and we’re usually good at finding a set-up quickly, so I’m not too worried.”
Sergio Perez, who scored Force India’s first podium since 2016 in Azerbaijan GP but hasn’t been in points in the last two races, feels recents developments have reinstated Force India’s position as a regular top-10 finisher.
“It was disappointing not to score points in the last two races,” he said. “We had the speed but I’ve just been unlucky.
“With three races over the next three weeks there should be a chance to make up for the missed opportunities.
“I want to turn our speed into solid points. I think we now have a car that can race for points at most circuits.
“We’ve made some progress recently and I’ve always said this team is very good at developing a car during the season.”
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