Sepang, Malaysia, Mar 23 : Chairman and managing director of the Force India Formula One Team, Dr Vijay Mallya, today described the performance of his team in the Malaysian Grand Prix Formula One race as one in which ''we showed that we are not what people thought about us as the team bringing up the rear, but one which is able to race and be competitive.'' Though Adrian Sutil did not complete the race, Giancarlo Fisichella finished at a creditable 12 position after starting 17 on the grid.
Mallya said, ''today we showed that the car has real race pace and we beat both the Williams drivers who were on the podium in Australia.
''Looking at the average lap pace of the car then we can see we are just a second behind the Ferrari and that is creditable,'' he added.
He further said that Fisichello demonstrated the improved race pace of the VJM01, battling throughout with the midfield pack and setting a string of lap times just over one second from the leaders.
Dr Mallya however, said that it was unfortunate, after moving from 20 on the grid to 14 in five laps, Adrian Sutil's car developed a hydraulic problem on the fifth lap and the German was unable to finish the race.
''We have to check where we are going wrong and take corrective measures immediately,'' he added.
Speaking about Giancarlo Fisichello, Dr Mallya said that the driver had a bad start off the line, which pushed him back to 20 but by his first stop he had graduated to 15 overall behind Barrichello.
A switch to the harder Bridgestone Potenza tyre option however, gave Giancarlo an opportunity to attack and he was soon pushing hard to catch the Brazilian, putting in lap times similar to the top three.
Giancarlo got within one second before his second stop, but he was ultimately able to overhaul the Honda driver in the closing stages of the race when the latter was handed a drive through penalty for speeding in the pit lane.
''Overall we have shown a genuine improvement in pace in Malaysia from last season. In 2007 this team was at the back of the grid, this year we were just 0.05secs from getting into Q2.
''We have bettered our fastest lap by over two seconds, more than any other team on the grid,'' he said.
Dr Mallya however, said that they were under no illusion of being on the podium this season and infact are hoping for a podium finish only in the 2010 season. ''For us these two seasons are a learning curve and we will try and improve a bit by bit before aiming for the podium in 2010,'' he added.
Fisichello speaking to the media after the race said, ''I think we honestly did our best here. At the start I had a lot of wheelspin and lost a lot of positions, I don't know why but we have to look into it.'' ''On my first stint I was suffering a lot of understeer with graining on the soft tyres but then in my stop I adjusted the front flap and went onto the harder tyres and stayed on them for both stints,'' he explained.
''I am happy with the race pace later on though and it is promising for the rest of the season,'' he said.
Adrian Sutil, who had a great start to the race moving up places continuously after starting 20 on the grid, was obviously disappointed saying, ''Very early on in the race I developed a mechanical problem and had to switch the engine off and pull off the track.
''I am very disappointed with this start to the season, especially after I had to stop so soon into the race in Australia too,'' he said.
Mike Gascoyne, the chief technical officer also sounded upbeat about the team's future chances saying that there have been some real positives from this weekend though there was some very bad luck for Adrian.
''He had a difficult weekend until the race but then made a great start and his race pace was looking really strong, so it's a real shame we had a hydraulic issue on his car very early on.
''Giancarlo made a bad start, but after the first stop he showed a really competitive race pace. Ultimately it was disappointing not to get two cars to the finish but overall I think we can look forward to a much better season than the team has had over the last few years,'' the chief technical officer added.
Sounding positive, Gascoyne said, ''with this race we have proved that we can expect to win points in the near future and we will be getting only better and better.''