Force India team principal Vijay Mallya expected the team to enjoy a more productive start to the season but is confident in the car’s pace.

The first race of the season saw Nico Hulkenberg score six points as a result of a seventh-place finish after a red flag period hurt the team’s strategy, but since then Force India has failed to score. Mallya admits he had high expectations for the start of the season but points to the slow start to last year as proof the team can still bounce back.

“In all honesty we expected more from the start of the season, but for various reasons the cards have not fallen for us,” Mallya said. “It’s worth making a comparison with 2015 because after three races last year we were in a similar position with seven points – one point more than we have this year – and that turned out to be our most successful season ever. With eighteen races to go there is a long season ahead and we have plenty of opportunities to turn around our fortunes.”

And Mallya says his optimism stems from the pace shown by the car at times throughout the first three races.

“There is no doubt that we have an inherently quick car. We’ve always qualified inside the top ten and Checo lined up seventh on the grid in China. In the race we fell a bit short, so that is one area where we can improve. We are also working hard to bring an upgrade package to Barcelona: it’s an aero step and further suspension evolutions, which will bring some performance gains.”

Looking ahead to the Russian Grand Prix, Mallya is targeting points at a track where Sergio Perez scored an impressive podium last year.

“The objective is to be inside the top ten in qualifying and the race. That’s a realistic goal and we will be disappointed if we don’t come away with some points. We demonstrated last year that we can be competitive in Sochi and it’s also the 100th race weekend for Nico [Hulkenberg] and Checo, so we want to celebrate the occasion with a special result.”

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