Force India has shaken off its old mantle as one of Formula 1's small teams by its strong start to the 2010 season, reckons driver Vitantonio Liuzzi.
The Silverstone-based squad has scored points in three of the first four races of the year and, with strong qualifying performances, too, Liuzzi believes the outfit has hit the kind of form it needs to threaten more established outfits.
"When you start having results and you start scoring points then you feel much stronger," said Liuzzi. "You feel better because you see your efforts have paid off. And also it is good because it's not just your confidence that goes up – the team confidence goes up, too.
"That is an important thing, especially for a team like ours. We are doing big things, we are scoring points consistently and we have shown that we are no longer a small team. These things keep you alive, keep you believing and keep you moving forward."
Liuzzi thinks the fact that Force India has moved forward from its promising end to 2009 is evidence of how strong the team has become, but he equally knows that there remains a big challenge in keeping the improvements going.
"Even last year I was saying that Force India will surprise some people, because it has a really strong group of people," he said. "There are really great people working there, great technical people, great mechanics, and everyone is working really well together. It is the best team I've ever worked with in my short career.
"It shows that the performance we are having this year is not the result of luck, but we also know we could be much faster. We are at the moment achieving our target where we want to be, but we need to push hard because the other teams are not sleeping and the development after Barcelona will be crucial for the remaining part of the season."
Following recent comments from Robert Kubica suggesting that Renault needed to keep a watchful eye over Force India's pace, Liuzzi knows how serious his team's rivals are treating the outfit.
"Robert is a really good friend – we speak after every race and we always believe we are competitors for them and they are competitors for us," he said. "We are pushing like hell to develop, because we think we can get good results in the remaining part of the season as well. It is nice to hear that they are looking at us and also nice that other teams are looking at us, too. It shows we are no longer a backmarker team."