Force India believe that challenging Red Bull in the fight behind Mercedes and Ferrari is a realistic target for 2019 after the takeover from Lawrence Stroll. Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer says the team has gone from the brink of extinction to now harbouring hopes of serious racing success.
Fourth-place finishes in the constructors' championship in 2016 and 2017 earmarked Force India as arguably F1's highest-achieving team when points-to-pounds were considered.
Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon have once again combined for the fourth-highest points tally among drivers, but the team is seventh in the standings after losing their points for the first 12 races of the season, having launched as effectively a new team following the Stroll takeover.
With cash having arrived in time to significantly boost 2019 development, Szafnauer believes the team can aim high next year.
"We want to fight for third place. I think we and Renault have a chance of getting closer to Ferrari and Mercedes in 2019," Szafnauer told Globo.
"Without Lawrence Stroll coming in, we would not have got to the race in August.
"I've been in F1 for 20 years and we started talking six months ago. But I have realised we are both [North] Americans and have similar ways of looking at and reacting to things.
"He [Stroll] wants to accelerate the growth of the team to the maximum to reach the top three who are dominating."
Szafnauer admits that it is unclear exactly where Force India will be in the shake-up next year, with teams tackling a new set of aerodynamic regulations.
"It's hard to know how our preparations are going, because this game is relative, and unless you know what the others are finding it's difficult to know where we stand," he added.
"But we are happy with the progress we are making. We were fortunate enough to run a version of next year's wing in the Hungary test and from that we have learned a lot and it's given us good direction."
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