Force India have proven themselves to be a formidable racing team in the last couple of months. After a tragic latter part of the season last year when Pirelli’s change of compound seemingly played havoc with their car balance – as it did to many other teams – Force India have bounced back this year with a strong, aspirational driver pairing coupled with a competitive power unit.
The result has been some good performances, however its often been a sight on Friday and Saturday for us to see the team in pretty dire spirits after showing disappointing pace in both Practice and Qualifying. But then when they have got to the race, the car has been capable of just about putting in the results through doing as little pitstops as possible.
Consistent performances by Nico Hulkenberg also allowed the team stay for the majority of this year inside the top five in the constructors championship, and now it seems they are fighting over fifth place with McLaren who currently have the edge after getting their act back together in Silverstone, not to mention some help by the teams double DNF in Hungary.
Heading into the latter part of the season, Force India will be looking at getting fifth in the constructors back from McLaren, however with both teams running the same power unit it might prove to be a tough old fight to the end of the season when double points are awarded, which is why I’ll be keeping close eye on both and the points table.
Drivers Championship Position: 7th
Best Result: 5th [x4]
What more can I say about Nico Hulkenberg, other than he seriously impresses me. He’s talked up a lot in the paddock, and its hard not to notice why. He is currently the second most consistent driver on the grid today, having scored points at every round apart from Hungary where his incredible run of points ended due to minor contact with his teammate. But to put that into perspective, Fernando Alonso is now the only driver score points at every round so far this season.
That run of consistency translates to his positions as well, with four fifth places to his name so far this season, and two sixth places. The only time he has ever finished outside of the top eight is on two occasions; Spain and Austria. Qualifying has also been a strong area for the German this year too, with him outscoring his teammate Sergio Perez nine to two, not to mention having a forty-point advantage over the Mexican heading into the latter part of the season.
But whilst Hulkenberg is able to display his raw speed against the likes of Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel every other race weekend, it seems none of the other teams are taking notice. With him being in amongst the taller and heavier bunch of drivers, many have blamed Hulkenberg’s weight as the reason why the top teams have not approached him with any sort of concrete offer. But as he has proved this year and last year, the weight has barely made an impact on his ability to put in the results.
The difficult decision in todays driver market is knowing where to go. One might say that Hulkenberg probably missed the boat in 2012 when everyone was on the move, and again last year to some extent. But with him being a competitive car at the minute, I don’t see why his options aren’t still open for 2016 – purported to be the next major driver movement – if he still keeps mixing it up amongst the front runners. A podium would only solidify his chances.
Drivers Championship Position: 11th
Best Result: 3rd
After catching the attention of McLaren in 2012 for what was to be a pretty appalling 2013 season, Perez has returned back to the midfield where he is arguably in a more competitive car this season with a much stronger team as a whole. The results of this have been clear, with his standout performance being in Bahrain where he was able to secure a third-place for the team and their first podium since Spa 2009.
His race in Canada was also panning out really well, with it at one point looking like he could have taken the lead of the race, before he made contact with Felipe Massa on the final lap, in an incident which was later found to be caused at the fault of the Mexican, despite not being present in the stewards office when the decision was made. This of course was contested the following round in Austria, but the stewards didn’t lift the ban, causing him to start ten places back from where he qualified on Saturday.
Gearbox issues in Malaysia before the race and taking contact with Jenson Button on the opening lap of the Monaco Grand Prix being both occasions where he has also had to retire, coupled with a non-points finish in Silverstone due to a bizarre cross wind playing about with the handling of the VJM07, has meant that Force India have dropped down from being in the top three to just outside the top five in the last four races.
With two of those being out of his control and one being the victim of a racing incident, Perez will be looking to salvage the points lost in those outings in the latter part of 2014 by trying to finish ahead of his former employer.