Mallya says Mercedes teams clearly ahead
5 March 2014 – Force India Team Principal Vijay Mallya says Mercedes is clearly ahead of rivals Ferrari and Renault prior to the first race of 2014 in Australia.
Mallya's Force India squad has been powered by Mercedes since 2009 and cars supplied by the German engine manufacturer topped all but one of the 12 days of pre-season testing.
Mallya reckons the four teams powered by a Mercedes engine – McLaren, Force India, Williams and the factory team itself – have an advantage.
"I would say that my decision to go with Mercedes early last year and to sign a long-term agreement with them was the right decision – the results speak for themselves," Mallya told the official Formula 1 website.
"The Mercedes-powered teams are clearly ahead and are currently more reliable than the others."
Mallya believes that the opening four rounds of the year present a huge opportunity for Mercedes-powered teams.
"The first four races present a great opportunity, particularly for the Mercedes-powered teams, because so far they are showing that they are ahead of the rest," he said.
"But in the end it will be all about – here comes the word again – reliability. You can do many fancy things during testing, but a race is a race and the conditions of a race are very different. By the time we get back to Europe many teams will have sorted out their issues and some big upgrades will be coming from Barcelona onwards.
"So yes, my guess is that these four races will be a bit of a luxury for the Mercedes-powered teams - and once we get to Europe, that is where some serious racing will start."