Force India is confident that a second-place finish at the Belgian Grand Prix was deserved and that the team can go on to contend at the Italian GP, the next race on the Formula One calendar.
Giancarlo Fisichella started from pole position and went on to finish second to Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen in Sunday’s 44-lap race, giving the team its first points in its 30th race.
Expectations for a victory now abound, and with good reason.
“Why not?” team owner Vijay Mallya said. “We know that the car is quick - blindingly quick I would say. The sector times show it and I think the Monza track will suit us.”
Fisichella navigated the Spa-Francorchamps’ high-speed circuit with ease and could have won if Raikkonen didn’t have his KERS boost to fend off any overtaking challenges. And Monza is a similar track to the Ardennes forest track, only faster.
“It looks very promising, it looks very good,” Fisichella said. “I’m not saying that we will repeat a result like today’s, which would be fantastic, but obviously getting into the top 10 and scoring points would be another fantastic result.”
Mallya now has to try and hang on to Fisichella with Ferrari rumoured to be interested in hiring the 36-year-old Italian to fill in for the injured Felipe Massa. Ferrari said it would make a decision by Wednesday whether Luca Badoer continues to drive Massa’s car after two straight last place finishes.
“I’m just concentrating for the next race with Force India unless they are going to call me, but even if they do call me, there are many things to think about, so we will see,” Fisichella said.
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali was impressed with the former Minardi and Renault driver’s driving.
“He was performing fantastically, and he was pushing Kimi from the back very strongly,” Domenicali said. “I cannot say that following the speculation whether it is true or not, but sure today he did a great race.”
Overall F1 leader Jenson Button of Brawn GP will need to rebound after finishing out of the points for the first time this season after crashing out on the opening lap.
“We’ve got to start getting back to being competitive,” said Button, who saw rivals Rubens Barrichello and Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull both trim his lead. “So I’m going to be aggressive.”
Button expects many of the contenders from Spa to contend at Monza, with Raikkonen leading Ferrari’s charge, while the Red Bulls and Force India will also be in the mix. McLaren may also rebound at Monza.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said everything was still to play for, including the constructors’ series, which Brawn GP leads from Red Bull by 23.5 points, with five races left.
“(Jenson) can’t continue to have race weekends like he’s had without being punished points wise in the next couple of events,” Horner said. “It’s still a four-horse race between now and the end of the championship.”
Button leads teammate Barrichello by 16 points, Vettel by 19 and Mark Webber of Red Bull by 20.5.