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Tyres will make or break Force India's season - Mallya
Force India team principal Vijay Mallya has called on his team to gain a better understanding of the new Pirelli tyres ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix in order for it to continue to take the fight to McLaren in the constructors' championship.
Force India is currently fifth in the standings but has seen its lead over McLaren reduced from 22 points to just two at the last two races. The team's slump in form has coincided with changes to the tyres at the last two races, which have negated the VJM06's advantage over its rivals.
"In hot temperatures we are not on top of the tyres, and they have started playing a very, very major role in performance," Mallya told ESPN. "We will use this break to really try to understand what is going on. I don't think it's an impossibility [to get back on top of the tyres], we started this season well understanding the tyres and that contributed to our performance in the first half of the season. Now it is just about getting ready for the second half.
"The change in tyres after Silverstone has certainly made a difference, but we need to come up the curve and get to know the tyres better, but otherwise it is a good car, the drivers are happy and there's no reason why we shouldn't be continuing with our form."
But Mallya said it would be foolish to underestimate the potential of McLaren in the second half of the season.
"At Silverstone we were 22 points ahead of McLaren and everyone came and asked me the same question [about whether we could stay ahead]. I said, look, I'm not a fool. McLaren is a multiple world championship team, they have humongous resources and it would be naive bordering on stupid to think that McLaren won't pick up their performance.
"I think at the last race, a one-race win would have wiped out the entire deficit. They are capable of winning races whereas Sahara Force India are still stepping up the ladder. I'm not surprised they have closed the gap, but we are still in front. We will do our best to continue our good form in the second half of the season and at the end of the day it is Brazil that will matter and it's just one point in the championship that could also matter - as we learned three years ago as Williams got ahead of us with one point."