Nico Hulkenberg
Force India's Nico Hulkenberg has predicted a close battle with McLaren and Williams.Reuters

Force India made the most of the first half of the season, scoring 98 points, including a third place finish in the Bahrain Grand Prix. The Silverstone-based outfit is now looking forward to continuing its fine showing in the remaining eight races of the season.

The Vijay Mallya co-owned outfit is currently on fifth position, a point ahead of McLaren, in the constructors' standings. They lost ground to both McLaren and fourth-placed Williams, after double DNFs in the last race at the Hungaroring.

Nico Hulkenberg, who has been one of the most consistent drivers on the grid this season, predicted that the battle will go down to the wire and stressed the Indo-British outfit needs to consistently score points in the upcoming races.

"We made the most of our opportunities in the first part of the season and we need to do the same in the final eight races," Hulkenberg said. "I expect a close battle in the championship until the end of the season so we need to be consistently picking up good points."

The last race in Hungary did not go as per Force India's plans, as for the first time in the season they failed to score any points. Hulkenberg crashed out in the opening stages of the race, after starting from ninth, while Sergio Perez suffered a huge shunt on the main-straight.

Force India's rivals Williams scored 14 points to stretch their lead to 37 points, while Jenson Button scored one point for McLaren. Team principal Mallya said he is happy with his team's current position and pointed out fourth place is still within reach.

"Until Hungary we had scored points in every race, so I guess we were due to have an unlucky weekend at some stage," Mallya said. "I just hope that's our bad luck over and done with. I'm pleased we went into the summer break in fifth place.

"I think it's where we deserve to be at this stage of the season. Fourth place is not out of reach either with 38 points covering fourth to sixth place. One race can make all the difference, and the last race, with double points, could prove to be decisive."

The next race will take place at Spa-Francorchamps, where Force India have traditionally performed well. In 2009, Giancarlo Fisichella finished second behind Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, after starting from pole position.

Meanwhile, Perez, who is only the second Force India driver to have made a podium finish, said the team needs to put the disappointing Hungarian GP weekend behind them and get back on track for the Belgium Grand Prix.

"I have never scored points at Spa, so that's my first target. We also need to put the disappointment of Hungary behind us," Perez said. "Spa is a power track and I think we can perform well there. It has amazing corners, lots of character and history."

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