This week is dedicated to Sahara Force India, PitCrew’s members wrote several articles related to Force India’s history and success and now it’s the time for me to share my article with you. Enjoy!
Sahara Force India’s first entry in Formula One, with this name, was in 2008 at the Australian Grand Prix, it was not the best weekend for the team. Giancarlo Fisichella started the race from the 16th place, while Adrian started from the pit lane because he had to change his chassis. Both drivers retired, Sutil had issues with his hydraulics and Fisichella retired after a collision. A bad start doesn’t mean anything. From 2008 since today, Force India has scored more than 850 points they have secured one pole position, five fastest laps and five podiums. The first fastest lap was set by Adrian Sutil at the Italian Grand Prix in 2009, the German finished fourth in that race and scored points for the second consecutive time.
One of the best moments in team’s history was in 2009, when Giancarlo Fisichella finished second in the Belgian Grand Prix and Force India celebrated their first podium finish in their history. The Italian was the first driver who finished on the podium for the team, but another driver holds the record of the most podium finishes for Sahara Force India. He is known as Checo, comes from Mexico and has finished four times on the podium, all of them in the third place.
Bahrain 2014, Sergio Perez qualified fifth, but moved one place higher because Daniel Ricciardo dropped from third to 13th as he received a ten-place grid penalty for an unsafe pit release in Malaysia. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg had their own battle for the first place, whilst Felipe Massa was trying to defend the third place from Sergio Perez. The Mexican failed to pass Massa on his first attempt, but on the next lap he overtook the Brazilian driver and took the third position. Checo, finished third behind the two Mercedes and followed by Daniel Ricciardo. Nico Hulkenberg, Perez’s team-mate, finished fifth at that race, behind Daniel Ricciardo.
One year later, in Russia, Perez repeated his success and scored another podium for Force India. This time he has finished behind Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. Despite that he qualified seventh behind his team-mate he took advantage of a collision between Hulkenberg, Verstappen and Ericsson on the first laps of the race and also the fact that the safety car was deployed two times, helped him to move up to the third place after an early pit-stop. After a thrilling race, the Mexican celebrated Force India’s third podium in their Formula 1 history. Last year, Perez decided to go one step further with the podiums and finished two times on the podium in the same season.
In Monaco he set the eighth fastest lap during the qualification session, but moved up to seventh because Kimi Raikkonen received a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change and dropped from sixth to eleventh. The race started behind the safety car, because the track was wet, that was beneficial for Force India, which after a good strategy managed to secure the third place for Perez. Perez benefited during the second round of stops, whilst many teams were confused and didn’t know when to switch from intermediates to slicks, Force India took the right decision and scored another podium. Hamilton was the winner of the 2016 Monaco Grand Prix, followed by Daniel Ricciardo and Sergio Perez.
The second podium, in 2016, was celebrated in Baku, also known as the European Grand Prix. The odds were not with Perez, as he was demoted to seventh, because his mechanics had to replace his gearbox after a small crash into the barriers in turn 15 during the final practise session. The Mexican qualified second, but started the race from the seventh place. At the start of the race, Sergio gained two positions and moved up to fifth, on the seventeenth lap Force India called Perez into the pits, a move which helped him to pass Hamilton. During the final laps of the race, Raikkonen got a five-second time penalty for crossing the pit exit line, so Perez, who was behind him, didn’t have to pass him for the third place, but the Mexican made his move on the final lap and passed Raikkonen. This was Force India’s last podium and Perez’s fourth podium with the same team.
Last season was Force India’s best season in Formula One, Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez collected 173 points combined and the team finished fourth in the constructors’ championship behind Ferrari and ahead of Williams. So far in 2017, Force India has not managed to finish on the podium, but they have scored 53 points they are fourth and just 44 points behind Red Bull Racing. It is a very promising season for the ‘pink panthers’ and I am sure that they will finish on soon as they are very competitive so far.
Victor Archakis F1 Editor