London: The Force India Formula One racing team has shrugged off its place among the minnows and joined the elite group battling for points - and soon podium positions, according to in-form driver.
The 29-year-old Italian and his Force India team-mate German Adrian Sutil have scored points in three of the four season-opening Grands Prix and looked fast and strong in qualifying.
Now, with the progressive backing of team owner Dr Vijay Mallya, who is also chairman of both United Breweries and Kingfisher Airlines, as well as owner of the Bangalore Royal Challengers in cricket’s Indian Premier League, Liuzzi reckons Force India are set to grown even stronger.
And he hopes they can prove themselves again with another strong showing in next week’s Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.
Mallya has declared it is his ambition to see his team fighting for a victory next year when India’s inaugural Grand Prix is due to take place at a purpose-built facility near Delhi, and Liuzzi believes the team is on course to realise that dream.
“When you start having results and you start scoring points, then you feel much stronger,” he said. “You feel better because you see your efforts have paid off. And also it is good because it’s not just your confidence that goes up - the confidence of the whole team goes up, too.
“That is an important thing, especially for a team like our one. We are doing big things, we are scoring points consistently and we have shown that we are no longer a small team. These things keep you alive -- keep you believing and keep you moving forward.”
Liuzzi added that Force India has moved forward from its promising end to 2009 - a progress that is evidence of how strong the team has become.
But, he conceded, he knows also that there remains a big challenge in keeping the improvements going to stay on course with the team owner’s goals.
“Even last year I was saying that Force India will surprise some people, because it has a really strong group of people. There are really great people working there, great technical people, great mechanics, and everyone is working really well together,” he said.
“It is the best team I’ve ever worked with in my short career. It shows that the performance we are having this year is not the result of luck, but we also know we could be much faster.
“We are at the moment achieving our target where we want to be, but we need to push hard because the other teams are not sleeping and the development after Barcelona will be crucial for the remaining part of the season.
“We are pushing like hell to develop, because we think we can get good results in the remaining part of the season as well. It is nice to hear that teams like Renault are looking at us. It shows we are no longer a backmarker team.”