Mallya ecstatic on win, says he delivered as promised
Mallya dismissed 'speculation' that Fisichella was about to join Ferrari.
New Delhi: A huge weight off Force India's back, team chairman Vijay Mallya on Sunday said the Formula One outfit has actually delivered on its promise of a podium finish one year before the 2010 deadline it had set.
"If you remember, we had promised to be among points in 2009 and be on the podium in 2010. So we have actually delivered on our podium promise in advance," Mallya told from Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium after Giancarlo Fisichella drove a fairytale race to finish second in the Belgian Grand Prix to score the team's first points.
After 29 false starts, the Vijay Mallya-owned Force India finally nixed the hoodoo and scored their maiden Formula One points with Giancarlo Fisichella finishing second in the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday at Spa-Francorchamps.
After Fisichella grabbed the pole position on Saturday, Mallya had called it the most memorable day of his Formula One career.
Asked if he would like to change it now and call the eventful Sunday as the most memorable day, Mallya said, "I don't think I can swap the days.
"To get the pole position was a huge achievement in itself, which will go down in the history (of Indian motorsports). Similarly, today's second place finish is also a
momentous occasion which will go down in history."
Mallya took the occasion to scotch rumours about the team's financial health and said Force India was not short on resource.
"Our performance today proved that money alone cannot buy you success. We had a rather small budget but with the right kind of effort and direction, we have become a competitive side," Mallya said.
"We are not short on resource but we spend our money wisely and intelligently," Mallya added.
Looking ahead to the five remaining races, the liquor baron said Force India would do everything to prove that Sunday's result was no flash in the pan.
"When you do well, you raise the expectation and the bar gets raised. But this is what sports is all about. If you cannot raise the bar, you have no business being here," he said.
It took Force India their 30th races to win their first F1 points but Mallya put the entire thing in perspective.
"We bought the Spykar team at the end of 2007 and raced with Spykar chassis and the same management in 2008.
"I consider 2009 as Force India's first year on the circuit, for we had new management and new car with a Mercedes engine and McLaren gearbox. We were confident of becoming a strong mid-field team and since the Australian Grand Prix, we were no more the backmarkers.
"We did not have a diffuser early this year but once the authorities cleared it, we got an interim diffuser. We kept pace with innovation and the update at Valencia proved a huge step forward," he explained.
He once again dismissed 'speculation' that Fisichella was about to join Ferrari and said, "I don't want to talk about speculation. I have not been approached by anyone yet."
Meanwhile, the 36-year-old Italian driver, rumoured to have one foot in Ferrari, shunned extravagance to run a flawless race and trailed Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari, which had snatched the lead using the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS), all the way for a podium finish and earn eight valuable points.
The Italian finished less than a second behind Raikkonen.
Fisichella's Force India teammate Adrian Sutil had a rather rollercoaster outing with the German eventually finishing 11th.
With this, Fisichella renewed his tryst with Spa, which has traditionally been benign to him.
It was at the same track in 1997 that Fisichella had finished second in a Jordan car.
For a car without the KERS boost, Fisichella displayed amazing racecraft in a race marked and marred by opening lap pile-up, early safety car and pit-stop fumbles.
The opening lap scramble cost defending champion Lewis Hamilton and current drivers' title leader Jenson Button their races as both spun off.
The turn five mishap also ended the race for Renault rookie Romain Grosjean and Torro Rosso's Jaime Alguersuari.
Even though Fisichella was elated with the show, the 36-year-old Italian felt he could have won the race but for KERS.
"Of course I could have won it. It's a great result. The target was to win our first points and I finished second to get eight points. So that is great but I'm still a little sad since I could have won the race," Fisichella said.
"I was quicker than Kimi and it's only because of KERS that he got ahead of me. Still I kept pressing hard and finished less than one second behind the leader, which is great," said the veteran driver.