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'I cannot compromise on driver quality' - Mallya

ESPNF1 Staff
November 19, 2010 « Lotus set to supply IndyCar engines | »

Vijay Mallya wants the two fastest drivers at Force India in 2011, regardless of nationality or funding.

A number of drivers have been linked to a Force India race seat next season, with Friday test driver Paul di Resta likely to be promoted, Nick Heidfled and Nico Hulkenberg in the running, and Indian Karun Chandhok in talks. However, incumbents Adrian Sutil and Tonio Liuzzi are both confident of holding off the competition, with the latter putting his faith in a contract for 2011.

Mallya is giving nothing away but told ESPNF1 that he would pick the two drivers most likely to deliver podium finishes in 2011.

"You know everybody keeps asking me about an Indian driver, and while I would love to have an Indian driver in the car, make no mistake about that, we spend hundreds of millions of dollars developing this car to fight for a hundredth of a second," he said. "I cannot compromise on the quality and skill of the drivers."

He said Chandhok was not at an inherent advantage because of his nationality.

"We have just one or two Indian drivers, we have put them in the simulator to assess them against other available options," Mallya added. "We will take whatever decision is in the best interest of the team because clearly we want to score points, we want to be on the podium.

"Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to be on the podium at the inaugural Indian Grand Prix in 2011. But we need the drivers who have the capability of delivering that,"

However, he said he was on the search for a talented Indian driver and is confident he will find one capable of winning races and championships.

"Amongst 1.2 billion people, there's got to be a Lewis Hamilton somewhere and it might be like looking for a needle in a haystack but we will find that needle," he said. "That is why we are launching a sort of hunt for a new driver."

Looking back on the 2010 season, Mallya said he was disappointed to miss out on sixth place in the constructors' championship and admitted it was down to the team losing out in the development race to rivals Williams.

"It's unfortunate we were just one point behind Williams," he said. "We had a 17 point lead with five races to go. So, if we came down from sixth place to seventh we have nobody to blame but ourselves. We have had our fair share of bad luck but you cannot blame everything on luck. Williams did a better job with their blown diffuser than we did.

"When the double diffuser came in last year, we very quickly not only introduced the double diffuser but enhanced the performance quite significantly. Sadly this wasn't the case with the blown diffuser this year. Williams really improved and then from about September, we started concentrating heavily on the 2011 car and spent less on developing the 2010 car. So a combination of these two factors probably cost us sixth place by just one little point."