He says the VJM07 is clearly competitive but a little bit more performance needs to be found if the team wants to challenge for podium finishes.
“Australia was definitely a respectable start, without a doubt, and probably the best start we’ve had since I took over the team,” he said. “Clearly the VJM07 is competitive: Nico finished sixth with a strong drive and I dare say Checo would have been higher up had he not had a first lap puncture.
“The fact that he finished where he did after three stops speaks for itself. Obviously there are reasons to be pleased, but we still realise that we need to find a bit more performance if we want to challenge for podiums. That’s what we are focussing on right now.”
He believes the team now has a good understanding of the car after winter testing and the first round of the year. “Whenever I spoke with the engineering team over the winter, it became clear the biggest unknown was the complexity of the car and consequently the reliability,” Mallya said.
“It wasn’t as if the designers and engineers were working with a familiar car that they already knew how to upgrade and tweak. Here everything was new. For example, nobody really knew what cooling was required and optimising that was a major job during testing. I think we have gone up the learning curve successfully and we have a good understanding of the car and all the new technology that’s gone into it.”
Looking ahead to this weekend’s race at the Sepang International Circuit, he said: “The weather in Melbourne was relatively cool so I’d like to see what impact the warmer climates of Malaysia and Bahrain will have on performance and competitiveness. Effective cooling will be a priority this weekend. If we can reproduce the performance level we showed in Melbourne that will be a good starting point.”
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic