Mallya up for a fight in the constructors’ championship

Leave a comment

Force India owner Vijay Mallya is confident that the team can catch Williams and battle with Ferrari in the constructors’ championship this season.

The team has made its strongest ever start to a Formula 1 season since debuting in 2008, scoring 98 points in the first half of the year to sit just eleven points shy of its biggest haul of 109 for a season with eight races to go.

Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez have both been in good form, making big gains on 2013, and Mallya is confident that this success can sustain until the end of the season.

“Yes, we’ve been in fourth position up to the eighth race, and we’re now sitting in P5, which is fine,” he explained to the official Formula 1 website. “We did not expect that we would reach fourth and maintain it right through the season.

“The difference in points between Ferrari, Williams, us and McLaren is still not so dramatic that we don’t believe that with a better race we can move forward. So as long as we are close enough I am not worried at all. That is the nature of Formula 1 racing.

“And we must never forget that at the last race it’s going to be double points, which can change everything again.”

Mallya refused to make any predictions for where the team will finish, but instead issued a rally cry to keep pushing.

“There is a huge amount of unpredictability on who will finish where in the constructors’ championship and the drivers’ championship this year, so it’s a question of focusing, keeping it going and making sure that none of the other teams are taking too much of a lead in front of us,” he said.

“Because we can always catch up – it’s still a long way to go.”

Given that Force India’s roots came from the back of the grid as an incarnation of Jordan Grand Prix, Mallya’s achievements are highly commendable. He has brought the team up the grid and made it a serious contender for podium finishes and even race wins, and 2014 looks set to be a year to remember if this form continues into the second half of the season.

F1: Max Verstappen provides late-lap thrills at U.S. Grand Prix

Getty Images
Leave a comment

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Leave it to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to provide some late-race thrills at the U.S. Grand Prix.

Verstappen’s key block on Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton late in Sunday’s race denied Hamilton a chance to maybe chase down Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen to win. And it helped deny Hamilton’s bid for the season championship.

Verstappen’s defensive skills allowed the Red Bull driver to finish second, his best result yet at the U.S Grand Prix, his fourth podium in six races. By keeping Hamilton third, it kept the season championship alive, even if just another week to the Mexican Grand Prix.

Last season, Verstappen had surged past Raikkonen on a final-lap pass to finish third. It was the kind of aggressive move that earned him the “Mad Max” nickname. Before he could even reach the podium, race officials declared Verstappen’s move illegal and bumped an angry Verstappen down to fifth.

The Circuit of the Americas this week installed a new curb on the same corner, dubbed “Verstoppen,” to punish drivers who tried anything similar this year. It worked when Verstappen hit it hard enough in qualifying to knock his car out of the session with a damaged suspension and gear box. He started Sunday’s race 18th.

The Dutch driver launched a furious attack through the field and found himself in the thick of things late Sunday. His move to block Hamilton wasn’t on the same corner with the curbs, and it came with him playing defense instead of being the aggressor.

Verstappen had to make multiple moves to keep Hamilton behind him and finally drove the Mercedes wide, forcing Hamilton to finally concede the position and the race.

“I was trying to get close to Kimi but at the same time keeping an eye on Lewis in my mirror. It was close, but we managed to hang on,” Verstappen said. “It is safe to say today went a lot better than expected.”

Knowing Verstappen’s aggressive nature, Hamilton said there was too much at stake to risk a collision.

“The key to me was to make sure I finished ahead of Seb. I don’t care when you win a championship, just that you win,” Hamilton said. “”For Max, to come back from so far, he did a great job.”

Verstappen has been just as aggressive at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City.

In 2016, race officials ruled he improperly left the track to gain an advantage on Vettel to finish third and he was bumped from the podium. Last season, Verstappen’s strong start sent him into the lead out of the first turn, while Hamilton and Vettel bumped each other. The collision ruptured one of Hamilton’s tires.

Verstappen won the race while Hamilton limped home in ninth place, but still won the season championship.