Force India has enjoyed being the ‘best of the rest’ for the past two Formula 1 seasons, but it has had a difficult start to 2018, however, the hopes remain to defend its constructors’ position for the third time in a row.

The team sits in a tight scrap with Renault who is leading with 62 points, followed by Haas on 49, McLaren on 44 and Force India with 42 – they are well ahead of Toro Rosso who has 19 after the eight races in the season.

It seems like Renault has taken some lead in the points table, but with 12 more races to go, a fightback is possible as Force India aims to repeat their 2016 heroics against Williams where they came back handsomely to take fourth for the first time.

The Indian outfit started off slowly in the that season, but picked on the pace post its upgrades in Barcelona. Williams had a 51 points lead from Force India after the first five races, but the latter eventually took fourth by 35 points.

In the current scheme, Force India is only 20 behind Renault which is why team boss Vijay Mallya reckons, it is not impossible to get the French outfit. “We’ve not had the best start that we were hoping for,” he said. We haven’t managed to get both cars into the points.

“We’ve had three of four first-lap incidents, all of which contribute to where you are in the Constructors’. I have every confidence in my people across the road at the factory. They are used to punching above their weight, which is something that I truly appreciate.

“We find ourselves two points behind McLaren and seven behind Haas, thanks to their special performance at the last race, and we’re 20 points behind Renault. We have been 20 points behind Williams two years ago and we still managed to secure fourth.

“I remain cautiously optimistic that we will get fourth again in the Constructors’ Championship in 2018.” Co-relation issues has halted the team’s progress in 2018, but it has still managed to eke out points wherever possible to keep itself in play.

In fact, it also took the podium in Baku which has helped them immensely in the process. One of the key reasons for them to flourish is their driver line-up of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon – a mix of experience and youth.

Talking about their future, Mallya insisted that the drivers are free to move out if any of the bigger teams call for them, like what happened with Nico Hulkenberg moving to Renault two years back.

However, he adds that there is no reason for them to do a sideway switch considering the team’s records. And it just doesn’t apply to the drivers, but also with the team officials – there hasn’t been much of a change within the team for the last few years.

Even though there has been approaches made by other teams, Mallya says his team’s culture has worked the magic over a larger pay check. “I have to admit that that’s something that I will not ignore but having said that, I have a fantastic team who love working for Force India.

“The culture across the road in our factory is very unique, very motivational and I have a passionate team of people. Yes, money is important and I guess people work to earn better but other teams have tried to tempt our people away in the past.

“They have not left us because there’s more to it than just a pay check, working at Force India. Great team, great leadership and they’re doing a wonderful job and I’m very proud of them.

“But, if people wish to leave, I obviously have to take action to replace them with equally good talent.” Apart from the drivers future, the team’s future has been in question for some time now with Rich Energy Ltd speculated to buy.

However, Mallya has kept on saying that unless there is a serious offer on the table, they won’t take it up for discussions. “People have been writing about the ownership of my team for years now,” he said.

“I’m proud that we finished our 200th Grand Prix in Austria. It’s a big milestone for me, since I owned this team. I’m sure you will not see anybody in Force India, or indeed myself, walk around with a ‘For Sale’ sign.

“And as far as all these rumours are concerned, and all the statements that keep appearing in the media, all I can say is if there is a credible offer with cash on the table, I will be the first one to discuss with my shareholders, see what they feel, and if, in the unlikely event we wish to sell the team, if there’s an offer that we cannot refuse, I will be the first one to announce it. Until then, speculation remains speculation.”