Mallya: A long time coming, but it’s very satisfying to see Force India back on the podium

Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday 6 April 2014.

Force India reached the giddy heights of second place in the Formula One constructors’ championship on Sunday after Mexican Sergio Perez secured only the second podium finish in the team’s history.

The McLaren reject’s third place in the floodlit Bahrain Grand Prix brought the added satisfaction of knocking his former employers into third place overall.

The only other time the Silverstone-based team have finished in the top three was ItalianGiancarlo Fisichella’s second place in Belgium in 2009 after starting from an unexpected pole position.

“Today is one of the greatest days in the history of our team,” said co-owner Vijay Mallya.

Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday 6 April 2014.

“It’s been a long time coming, but it’s very satisfying to see Sahara Force India back on the podium after so many near misses in recent years.”

With Germany’s Nico Hulkenberg finishing fifth, and scoring points for the third race in a row, Force India now have 44 points to McLaren’s 43.

Perez is no stranger to the podium, although he did not manage it all last season with McLaren, having enjoyed top-three placings with Sauber in 2012 but this was the hardest-won of any of them.

“It means a lot,” said the elated Mexican. “It’s a very special podium for myself. I had a really tough time, my time in McLaren where I was basically quite far…I never had a chance to fight for a podium in all my year (there).”

Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Race, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Sunday 6 April 2014.

“Really, coming into Force India and being able to, only in my third race, to be able to qualify fourth and then straight away being able to fight for the podium was a great feeling. An amazing podium.”

Perez had his teammate to thank for it as well, with Hulkenberg holding Australian Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull at bay for long enough to allow the Mexican to get too far out of reach after the safety car period.

“We fought so hard and it’s been so close so many times that finally coming through is just wonderful,” said deputy principal Bob Fernley. “It looked a little bit in jeopardy after that Safety Car came out.” (Reuters)