We are just a second away from being there with the top cars: Mallya

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Sepang, Malaysia, Mar 22 (UNI) ''We are now just one second away from being there at the top of Formula One racing,'' Force India Formula One team joint owner Dr Vijay Mallya claimed here today.

Speaking to newspersons at the Sepang circuit after the final qualifying round, Dr Mallya sounded rather upbeat and proud of his racers even though for the second time in a row they had missed the Q2.

''Even though we have missed the Q2 again with Giancarlo Fisichella finishing 17th, we have been getting better and better with every race and have proved to people that we are now a seriously competitive team,'' the Indian industrialist said.

He further said, ''if you look at the timings then we are just one second behind the best cars like the Ferraris and McLarens. The hardest part now starts, covering that one second.'' Dr Mallya also sounded realistic, saying that he does not believe that one second difference would be made up in 2008, ''but more likely next year and I am sure that in 2010 when the Indian Grand Prix is held we will be on the podium.'' He also felt that removing the traction control and control on electronic has made the F1 more driver controlled than electronically controlled in the past which in turn has made this sport more competitive and interesting.

Speaking about tomorrow's race, Dr Mallya said ''it will be a very competitive race and if it rains as the prediction is for rain,'' then he will be more than happy as both his drivers (Fisichello and Adrian Sutli) love driving in the rain ''and I would obviously wish for what my drivers want.

''Our main objective tomorrow is to finish the race,'' he added.

He also noted with satisfaction the improvement in the team after bringing in some changes in aero-dynamics in the car, which will be further improved by the Bahrain Grand Prix.

''By mid-season that is July we will also install a seamless gear box which will further help us improve our timings and take us a lot closer to the top cars,'' he claimed.

UNI GS RAR BD1848

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