Vijay Mallya insists Sahara Force India were the innocent victims of the opening lap collisions at the Russian Grand Prix and that their true form has still to be realised.
Nico Hulkenberg was hit by Esteban Gutierrez at the first corner, sustaining damage that led to the German’s retirement at the Sochi Autodrom, and while Sergio Perez made a reasonable start to jump into fifth position, the Mexican suffered a puncture, caused by being hit by Daniel Ricciardo after the Australian was caught up in the Daniil Kvyat/Sebastien Vettel incident, that saw him to drop to the rear of the field.
Mallya, the Team Principal for Force India, believes they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time with both cars, and he admitted his frustration that neither were able to show their true pace during the whole race.
“In Sochi we were the innocent victims of the first lap chaos – as was the case in Bahrain too,” said Mallya. “It’s frustrating because, even with the benefit of hindsight, it’s hard to see what we could have done differently.
“We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time with both cars, which caused a puncture for Sergio and ended Nico’s race. To see Sergio recover from the back of the pack and score points was a tremendous effort.
There are still seventeen races left on the 2016 calendar and Mallya is confident that the best is yet to come from the Silverstone based outfit.
“I hope we’ve used up all of our bad luck already!” Mallya added. “We’ve yet to see how we perform in a clean, trouble-free race without safety cars, red flags or accidents.
“Despite not realising our potential in Sochi, we took encouragement from our qualifying and race pace. The car is improving and we’ve got a good base on which to build. There are 17 races to go and I’m confident the best is yet to come. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”