After three races this season, Renault enjoys a 12-point cushion but Force India chairman Vijay Mallya is optimistic that his team can bridge the gap and finish fifth in the constructors’ championship.

Mallya has been harping on finishing behind the ‘Big Four’ — Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull and Mercedes GP — and 18 points from three races places Force India sixth in the list, behind Renault with 30.

Mallya admitted Renault would not concede an inch but still felt Force India is capable of overtaking them.

“The grid is very tight as we saw in Malaysia and Australia and there’s no clear delineation between the front and the midfield,” Mallya said ahead of Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix.

“The most important at this stage is that we are still up there fighting. Renault look very strong right now but there’s still a lot more races to go this year and we have a clear direction about where we are going that will keep us with them, or hopefully leapfrog them,” said Mallya.

“The drivers are confident and the team is working well so I think fifth is still realistic,” he added.

All three races have yielded points so far this season and Mallya patted the team for maintaining their focus.

“At the start of the season I said we wanted to be regular points finishers and here we are, three races in, with three points finishes,” he said.

“It’s very pleasing when you see just how far we’ve come in one year. The difference, I believe, has been keeping the focus on what we want to do. We’ve kept our heads down, got on with the job and to a certain extent kept out of what the other teams are doing — we’ve focused on our own game.

“The team at Brackley and Silverstone are tight-knit, efficient and the results are now coming through,” he said.

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