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.”

Alonso would be ‘very happy’ to finish F1 career with McLaren

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Fernando Alonso says he would be “very happy” to see out his Formula 1 career with McLaren after signing a new multi-year contract with the British team, announced on Thursday.

Alonso, 36, ended speculation about his future by agreeing a new deal with McLaren, hopeful of returning to the front of the field next year when the team swaps Honda power for Renault engines.

Alonso admitted to considering options outside of F1 before agreeing to stay at McLaren, and was thought to only be chasing a one-year extension in order to be in a position to snap up a more attractive seat in the volatile 2019 market.

However, Alonso confirmed in an interview with the official F1 website that the deal with McLaren stretched beyond the end of next year, adding he would be content to see out his time in the sport with the team.

“I never talk about contracts, but one thing I can say is it is a long-term partnership,” Alonso said.

“I am very happy to finish my career at McLaren. So I don’t think it is going to be only one year.”

Alonso also revealed he had options with teams high up the field in F1 for 2018 just a couple of months ago, but was always leaning to staying at McLaren despite not scoring a podium with the team in almost three years.

“There were some other options in F1. In the summer there were still some options at the top teams, but my desire was to stay with McLaren,” Alonso said.

“But at that time they were in conversation with different engine suppliers, so I had to give them time to sort out their situation.

“Then McLaren opted for a Renault engine which delayed my decision, because I had to understand what Renault’s plans were for next years.

“But when I had everything on the table, everything was pretty clear.”