Mallya up for a fight in the constructors’ championship

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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.

Indy Lights: Oliver Askew wins Freedom 100 in thrilling finish

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Oliver Askew won Friday’s Freedom 100 Indy Lights race in thrilling fashion, narrowly edging out Ryan Norman for the victory by an incredibly slim margin – 0.0067 seconds to be exact – in the fourth-closest finish in Freedom 100 history.

Askew took the lead away from teammate Norman just a few feet away from the yard of bricks on the final lap, which was all he needed to claim his third win of his maiden Indy Lights season.

“This is unreal,” Askew told NBC Sports in Victory Lane. “I’ve never raced in front of so many people in my life. This is unbelievable.”

“I woke up this morning and I felt like this could be the day. Starting from eighth, I knew I was going to have a good car. This is incredible. Oh my gosh.”

With Askew and Norman finishing 1-2, Rinus VeeKay would finish the race in the third position. Toby Sowery and Dalton Kellett would round out the top five, finishing fourth and fifth, respectively.

Race polesitter Robert Megennis would be the last driver to finish on the lead lap, taking the checkered flag in the eighth position.

The yellow flag would fly twice in the 40-lap event, with the first caution coming out on lap two when David Malukas spun in Turn 4.

Malukas would make contact with Chris Windom, sending both drivers violently into the inside wall. Both drivers would walk away from the incident safely.

The second caution of the day came out on lap 30 when Sowery made contact with Megennis at speed in Turn 1, causing Sowery’s car to turn in to the nose of the No. 2 car of Megennis. Somehow, both drivers were able to save their cars from making contact with the wall and would continue to race, though Sowery was assessed a penalty for avoidable contact.

With his victory, Askew now sits at the top of the series points standings with 190. He leads VeeKay by 11 points.

The Indy Lights schedule now moves on to Road America, with a double header scheduled for Saturday, June 22 and Sunday, June 23. Both races will air live on NBC Sports Gold.

Click here for full Freedom 100 results

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