Force India is building momentum this season despite dropping to seventh in the constructors’ championship, according to its team principal Vijay Mallya.
Correlation problems between Force India’s simulation tools and the track has led to a relatively slow start for the team that eased to fourth in the constructors’ standings last year, with only one point scored in the first three races. While Haas moved ahead of Force India in Spain, Sergio Perez scored a podium in Azerbaijan and then two further points in Barcelona to give Mallya confidence the team is moving in the right direction ahead of this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.
“Monaco is always a great opportunity to score good points,” Mallya said. “Both Sergio and Esteban love the track and historically we’ve been competitive on street circuits. You sometimes need the luck to go your way — which didn’t happen last year, but that’s part of the unpredictable challenge of Monaco.
“The car is getting better with each race. The updates in Spain took us a step forward and there is more to come. After five races it feels like we have some momentum behind us now. It’s also worth remembering that in 2016 after five races we had scored fewer points than we have now [14 vs 18]. It’s a reminder of how quickly things can change in Formula 1. There is a long way to go.”
Perez is eyeing a third consecutive point-scoring finish on Sunday at the scene of an impressive third place in 2016.
“The reason I like Monaco so much is because it’s not easy,” Perez said. “It’s a massive challenge and it’s always a tough race. Every lap you are under pressure. There is no chance to relax. You need to build up your speed, build your confidence and be careful not to overstep the limit. When the car is working well and you have confidence, it’s the best feeling in the world.
“Qualifying in Monaco is the most important session of the year. I usually say that qualifying is 99% of the weekend because overtaking on Sunday is very difficult – unless it rains. So there is big pressure on the Saturday and it’s not easy to find space in Q1 when all the cars are on track. It can become a lottery. You rely on your team to help you find some space.
“I’ve had some good results in Monaco, especially the podium two years ago. I always enjoy street circuits and I think it’s another good opportunity for us to score points.”