• Force India

More needed for podiums - Mallya

ESPN Staff
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Vijay Mallya believes Sergio Perez was unlucky not to finish higher in Melbourne © Sutton Images

Vijay Mallya is not dwelling on Force India's encouraging start to the season, as he believes plenty of work needs to be done if the team is to bridge the gap to Mercedes and Williams.

Nico Hulkenberg's sixth in Melbourne was the best finish for Force India on an opening weekend since its creation in 2008, while Sergio Perez finished 10th after an early puncture, leaving the team with one point less than at the same stage last year. Mallya was happy with the start but insists the team still has to step up its efforts to keep up with the leading pair.

"Australia was definitely a respectable start, without a doubt, and probably the best start we've had since I took over the team," Mallya said. "Clearly the VJM07 is competitive. Nico finished sixth with a strong drive and I dare say Checo would have been higher up had he not had a first lap puncture. The fact that he finished where he did after three stops speaks for itself. Obviously there are reasons to be pleased, but we still realise that we need to find a bit more performance if we want to challenge for podiums. That's what we are focussing on right now."

Mallya believes all the teams on the grid adapted remarkably to the massive regulation changes over the winter.

"It wasn't as if the designers and engineers were working with a familiar car that they already knew how to upgrade and tweak. Here everything was new. For example, nobody really knew what cooling was required and optimising that was a major job during testing. I think we have gone up the learning curve successfully and we have a good understanding of the car and all the new technology that's gone into it.

"To see so many cars finish [in Melbourne] surprised a lot of people. It shows that teams have got on top of their game and the uncertainties have been reduced to a large extent. Now it's a question of really concentrating on trying to find the competitive advantage."

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