Force India boss Vijay Mallya is not ruling out podium finishes this year after a promising performance by his team in the opening race in Bahrain. Both Adrian Sutil and Tonio Liuzzi showed strong form during the Sakhir weekend, with the Italian scoring two points from ninth position. Sutil, who had qualified in the top 10, finished in 12th after spinning on the opening lap and dropping to 21st.
Mallya reckons the team has been meeting its targets since he took over, and the Force India boss believes the start of the season proved that the Silverstone-based squad could aim for the odd top-three finish.
"The way we are today I think we're very competitive, and everything is going to plan," said Mallya. "In 2009, I said we should score some points occasionally, and we scored 13, which was respectable. This year I said we should score points regularly.
"We have opened our account in the first race and I think the opportunity is wide open for us to now score points regularly. I wouldn't be surprised if we could target the odd podium or two. And next year we should hopefully strongly target podium finishes."
Mallya admitted he was happy with how the season started, and heaped praise on Liuzzi for his drive.
"I'm obviously very pleased, despite what happened to Adrian at the start," he said. "For this team, given our history and background, to score points in the first race is quite a remarkable effort. But I think even more so two things have made a very significant impression on me.
"First is our race pace. I think that's a huge statement for a relatively small team like us. The second is there's been so much spoken about Tonio. He's not just proven himself, but I think he drove beautifully. He preserved his tires well, he was quick, and he brought the car home in the points. So all credit goes to Tonio."