Force India team principal Vijay Mallya describes Esteban Ocon’s point in the Bahrain Grand Prix as “bittersweet” after feeling a bigger points haul escaped the team.
Having failed to score in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, Force India finally registered a point courtesy of Ocon’s 10th place in Bahrain. Sergio Perez was also competitive during the race but a spin on Lap 1 after being hit by Brendon Hartley limited his recovery and Mallya says Force India can’t afford to miss opportunities in such a tight midfield battle.
“It was bittersweet coming away from Bahrain with just a point,” Mallya said. “Yes, it was good to get on the scoreboard, but the potential for more was there. Apart from the race result, it was an important weekend of testing and learning about the car. There’s more to come this weekend too as the development race continues.
“The grid was very tight in Bahrain and we expect the same in China. With such small margins, it’s about maximizing every session. A small mistake is the difference between making Q3 or dropping out in Q1. We will continue working hard this weekend to reclaim our position at the front of the midfield.”
Perez echoed Mallya’s feelings but says he is optimistic there is more to come from Force India as the team continues to bring upgrades to its car in China.
“I have mixed feelings after the Bahrain weekend,” Perez said. “I think we had the potential for a great result, but everything changed after being hit on Lap 1. It’s disappointing to miss out on points, but I still enjoyed the race trying to recover from the back of the field.
“We made some progress over the weekend and we’re definitely in the midfield battle. We have more updates to test in China and we just need to keep working in the same direction, as we did in Bahrain.”
One point from the opening two races marks Force India’s worst start to a Formula 1 season since 2009, when it failed to score until a stunning podium for Giancarlo Fisichella at the 12th round in Belgium.