Force India owner Mallya delighted with Perez podium

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Force India team owner and team principal Vijay Mallya was in a jubilant mood following Sergio Perez’s podium finish in today’s Bahrain Grand Prix, which was just the second in the team’s seven year history.

Perez started in fourth place and raced well to fend off Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo on the last lap of the race and finish on the podium for the first time since the 2012 Italian Grand Prix.

“It is a very special moment,” Mallya told the official Formula 1 website. “My job was always to make this team climb up the ladder – steadily. I always believed that 2014 – with all the new regulations – gave us a new opportunity. And so far what a good season it has been! We finished sixth in Australia, we improved to fifth in Malaysia – and I think I hinted in Malaysia that I hoped that we could improve further, and there you have it: the podium in Bahrain!”

Mallya spoke about a “jinx” that had blighted the team’s efforts in recent years. Nico Hulkenberg crashed out from the lead at the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix, and Paul di Resta came close to a podium finish at last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

“Everybody in the team is absolutely delighted that we have finally achieved the podium,” he said. “Last year we were quite unlucky, but today the jinx is broken – and I would not mind if this is the start of a nice series of podiums.”

The team’s first podium finisher was Giancarlo Fisichella at the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix. In quite an odd occurrence, the team appeared to simply have the perfect car for that track on that particular weekend. The Italian driver claimed pole position, but was denied victory by a KERS-powered Kimi Raikkonen at Spa on that day.

Mallya hopes that the team can grace the podium once again at the next race in China, but he is refusing to get ahead of himself despite Force India lying second in the constructors’ championship.

“We are always trying to improve,” he said. “If we can repeat the podium, that would of course be fantastic. But it is so competitive here that it is not possible to predict anything. I think the only team that can make a sensible prediction is Mercedes because they are so much quicker than anybody else. But I don’t think that any other team can accurately predict where they will be.”

Audi bids farewell to Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich upon retirement

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Audi bid farewell to its iconic head of motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, at its end-of-season ‘Race Night’ event in Germany on Friday upon his retirement.

Ullrich took over the reins as Audi’s head of motorsport in 1993 and stayed in the role for 23 years, overseeing its arrival in the prototype class of sports car racing and domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ullrich stepped down from the position at the end of 2016, handing the reins over to ex-Audi DTM chief Dieter Gass, and attended his final racing event with the German marque at its first works Formula E outing in Hong Kong earlier this month.

Ullrich was honored at the Race Night event on Friday and thanked for his efforts in developing Audi into a force within global motorsport.

“In 566 factory-backed commitments during this period he celebrated 209 victories, 13 of them in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, eleven in the 12-hour race at Sebring and nine in the ‘Petit Le Mans’ at Road Atlanta,” a piece on Ullrich’s tenure for Audi’s website reads.

“31 driver titles in super touring car racing, in the DTM and in the sports prototype category are credited to him. 57 campaigners were Audi factory drivers during Wolfgang Ullrich’s era and he was responsible for 18 new developments of racing cars – an impressive tally.”