Sunday, March 09, 2014

Engine Blood's Guide To 2014: Force India

IN SHORT: A force for the future.

HISTORY: Colourful, to say the least.  They were formerly cheeky Irish headline-grabbers Jordan, Dutch high-performance carmakers Spyker and Canadian-Russian...  Er...  Somethings, Midland F1, until Vijay Mallya stepped in from 2008 onwards to bring India its first taste of competition at the highest level of motorsport.

Unfortunately they were rubbish for a long time, until an unlikely second place from Giancarlo Fisichella in Spa brought them into the public eye, and year upon year of consolidation and gradual improvement since has both brought them to a comfortable mid-table position and made them a coveted destination for drivers with an eye on a leap forwards.


Source: Autosport
Another black car?  Formula One seems to go through phases of colour overuse; at least the distinctive orange and green is still in there.  The common new design features are present and correct.  On a side note, I love these awkward driver/car photos - nobody looks like they want to be there.

ENGINE: Mercedes.  Force India are long-time partners and Germany's once-fancied prospect Adrian Sutil sealed the medium-term deal last year; getting another much-fancied herr in this year won't have hurt that relationship either.


11. Sergio PEREZ (MEX) - Last year: 11th (49 points, best finish: 5th, India)

27. Nico HULKENBERG (GER) - Last year: 10th (51 points, best finish: 4th, Korea)

Rewind to 2012, and Sergio Perez was being heralded as the new hope for F1's future; come back to today, and he faces a make-or-break year in which he needs to rehabilitate his shattered career.  The difference?  Twelve months in a McLaren team who failed to impress and were riven with political intrigue, making him a convenient scapegoat - hence the fickle finger of fate pointed him out of the door, in a move that ripped the driver merry-go-round off its stand and kickstarted the very silliest of silly seasons.

Hlukenberg too comes here as a last-ish resort, since Ferrari had been courting him last season; Raikkonen's decision cut that one off but made him a shoe-in for Lotus, who as it turned out didn't have much money yet so had to plump for a much worse but much richer driver.  It was also said that Nico's stature counted against him, as he's a lanky git and the weight restrictions have been lowered this year, but that was a poor excuse - make no mistake, that decision was about the money.

LAST YEAR: 6th (77 points)

Adrian SUTIL (GER) - 13th (29 points, best finish: 5th, Monaco)
Paul DI RESTA (GB) - 12th (48 points, best finish: 4th, Bahrain)

Mission accomplished last year, as they pulled well clear of Sauber and even challenged an admittedly hamstrung McLaren.  Meanwhile, with Scotland heading towards independence, perhaps it's only fitting that gear ratio-obsessed boremonger Di Resta became independent of his Formula One career and got packed off back to touring cars; he didn't impress on the level that biased British commentary would suggest, and simply never earned his spurs.

PROSPECTS: Two hungry drivers, engine stability and a solid budget; this could be a squad to watch.

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