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Motorsport | Formula 1

Vijay Mallya with Sergio Perez © Gallo Images

Force India prove to be new power



Mercedes are the kings of Formula One, but it's unheralded Force India who have assumed the role of heir apparent, leaving mighty Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari in their slipstream.

As Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg powered to another Mercedes one-two in a gripping Bahrain Grand Prix wheel-to-wheel duel on Sunday, Force India celebrated a third place for Sergio Perez and a fifth-place finish for Nico Hulkenberg.

It put Force India, owned by Indian business tycoon Vijay Mallya, into an unlikely second place in the constructors championship after three races of the 2014 season.

"Today is one of the greatest days in the history of our team. 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," said team chief Mallya.

"So I'm extremely proud of everyone in the team and congratulate all of them on this achievement. 2014 is a new chance and we have shown we're moving forward in Australia, Malaysia and here. I couldn't be happier."

Perez's third place finish at Sakhir on Sunday was only Force India's second podium placing to follow Giancarlo Fisichella's second place at the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix.

It was reward for a consistent season so far which saw Hulkenberg take a fifth place in Malaysia last week after a sixth spot finish in the season-opener in Australia.

Perez, after a barren year with McLaren in 2013, enjoyed a fourth career podium after three such placings in his days with Sauber in 2012.

Hulkenberg stands in third place in the 2014 world championship, by far the best of the rest left behind by the Rosberg-Hamilton-Mercedes show.

"We have a great driver line-up and we saw both 'Checo' and Nico at their best as they battled for a place on the podium," said Mallya whose team were born from the remains of the Jordan, Midland and Spyker outfits.

For Perez, Sunday's third place was particularly sweet after his one-year spell with McLaren coincided with the famed British team's worst season in history, a campaign that saw them fail to gain a single podium finish.

"This podium is an amazing achievement and one of the most special results in my whole career," said the Mexican.

"This is a massive confidence boost, especially after the very hard season I had last year, and it was the hardest-fought podium I ever had.

"It was an amazing feeling to cross the line because the last few laps were very difficult. I had to keep up the pace and I knew the Red Bulls were coming. In the end we managed to stay ahead and score this very special result in only my third race with the team."

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