Sahara Force India says the podium finish in Bahrain was not a “one-off” thing since the car was very consistent and the aim is to repeat the performance at Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix, in Shanghai.
In a terrific show, Sergio Perez finished third and Nico Hulkenberg was fifth as the team catapulted to second in constructors’ championship with 44 points, just one more than third-placed McLaren.
Team Principal Vijay Mallya said they have shown in the first few races that they have a very competitive car this season.
“Bahrain was not just a one-off and we’ve been improving with each race. It’s our best ever start to a season, which always gives me a great sense of satisfaction, but we won’t sit back; we are always trying to improve. The aim is to repeat the podium,” Mallya said.
“But each race is different and the field is so competitive that it’s impossible to predict. Some tracks will suit us more than others but I want to see us up there fighting towards the front,” he added.
Perez was very hopeful of continuing the good show but cautioned against taking things for granted.
“The target is to move on, keep improving and target more podiums. Bahrain was the first real opportunity I had to develop the car through the weekend without any issues so it felt like my season really started there. Now we need to think about how we can do better in China. At the same time we must not get carried away because we know how competitive Formula One is and how things can change very quickly,” the Mexican said.
Asked about his expectations from this weekend, Hulkenberg said, “It’s hard to say for sure. We’ve performed well at all the tracks so far and they all had very different characteristics. So we can feel positive that the car will perform quite well in China.
“We are going there after the test in Bahrain and hopefully we can bring some more performance too. So I think we can aim for another competitive weekend and come away with some more points.”
Talking about the battle as well as the understanding between Perez and Hulkenberg in Bahrain, Mallya praised both the drivers.
“In the final part of the race we saw great teamwork as Nico held back the charging Red Bulls who had the advantage of soft tyres. Ricciardo did eventually get ahead, but Nico helped Checo (Perez) escape up the road and build a gap.
“So I was very proud of my drivers; they were outstanding in the race. They both deserved a podium, but in the end it went to Checo. After the tough weekend he had in Malaysia, it’s a great morale boost for him,” he said.