Force India's race drivers are not raising false hopes by predicting a major step forward for the Silverstone based team in 2009, team owner and boss Vijay Mallya said on Monday.

Force India's race drivers are not raising false hopes by predicting a major step forward for the Silverstone based team in 2009, team owner and boss Vijay Mallya said on Monday.

Speaking at the Jerez circuit where the new VJM02 is making its full test debut, the Indian billionaire was asked about the promising reviews already given by drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil.

"That's good, because if the car's not good, they won't risk raising expectations by saying something like this," The Hindu publication quoted Mallya, 53, as saying.

With Mercedes power and McLaren technical support, Mallya said points "on merit" is the target for 2009 while there will be "no excuses" for failing to deliver.

He told India's Economic Times: "I don't think we can expect miracles early in the season. I don't expect the car to go out in Australia and score points.

"But by the time we get to Europe there is no reason why I shouldn't be expecting being in the points."

Fisichella and Sutil failed to score a single point in 2008, the first season since the Spyker buyout.