Sakhir, Bahrain: Sahara Force India have made a solid start to the 2014 Formula 1 season but more needs to be done for the coveted podium finish, said team boss Vijay Mallya ahead of Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix.
The Silverstone-squad finds it'self in fifth position in the team standings after collecting 19 points from the first two races.
Highly-rated Nico Hulkenberg has already made his presence in a Force India return, lapping up 18 points to a single point scored by Mexican teammate Sergio Perez.
"We've still got some catching up to do if we want to be a regular podium contender. We've got our plans for that. We've had our best start to a season in our history, since the Jordan times, and despite only one car finishing in Malaysia we are sitting in fifth in the Championship," Mallya said.
The Team Principal said he was confident of a second double points finish at a circuit where two pre-season tests were conducted. The Sunday's race will also be the Gulf nation's first F1 night race.
"In Bahrain, we don't expect any unknowns there and hopefully we'll have a good race."
Hulkenberg had led the last week's Malaysian Grand Prix briefly before he pulled off a two-stop strategy to finish fifth and Mallya took a lot of pride in that.
"You can't just find yourself leading a Grand Prix by accident. Things have got to be in the right place at the right time, and you must be good enough to be able to be up there in front."
On Hulkenberg's performance, Mallya said: "He's got that huge competitive spirit in him and he's obviously hugely talented. In the wet, in the dry, whatever the tyre compound, he's there. It was sad that we encountered some unexpected issues with Checo's car and that he had to sit out the race."
Hulkenberg too is encouraged by the pace of the car and now wants his team to keep the development rate high.
"I think we have a strong foundation and we can now build on that. The car is good, but there are still areas that we need to focus and work on so we have to keep the development rate high," said the German.
What does he think of the night race in Bahrain though the testing took place in day time.
"We will drive at a very different time of day, when it gets cooler. I think it will be easier for the tyres and tyre management, which is good for us in the car. In terms of performance I expect something similar to Malaysia. I think the aim must be for us to qualify in the top ten again and score some more points," added the German.
Perez had an excellent race here last year as he finished sixth in a McLaren car and he is hoping for a good show again. His race in Sepang last week had ended on the way to the grid.
"Last year I had a good race with McLaren and it was one of my best races. Also, I won there in GP2. Normally it's a good track for me, so I'm looking forward to it," he said.
Story first published on: Wednesday, 02 April 2014 17:33 IST