I think I would be right in saying that it hasn’t been all plain sailing for Sahara Force India in 2015. Changing its wind tunnel facilities and moving to Toyota’s, based in Cologne, problems with suppliers and launching an underdeveloped VJM08 with three pre-season days remaining, it wasn’t the ideal start to the season.
But if you said to anyone at Force India that they would be fifth in the constructors going into the summer break and bearing in mind the B-spec car was only launched at Silverstone, they probably would have snatched your hand off.
It has been a solid first half to the season for the team despite the slow start to 2015 and a double DNF at Hungary. Going into the summer break on the back of a double DNF will have been disappointing but I have seen enough in the last three-five races to think that Sahara Force India will have a strong second half to the 2015 season.
And even in Hungary, both Nico Hulkenburg and Sergio Perez were running strongly in the points before both drivers retired from the race. There are plenty of reasons for everyone at Force India to be optimistic going into the second half of the season.
Season so far
Both Manor cars and others failed to make the starting grid for the season opener in Australia. But that didn’t stop both Force India drivers finishing in the points, with Hulkenburg finishing seventh and Perez coming home in tenth.
The next four races, only four points were scored with Perez finishing eighth in Bahrain. Less said about Malaysia, China and Spain. A time for the team to feel sorry for themselves? No chance.
Although Hulkenburg just missed out on the points in Monaco, Perez came home in a strong seventh place to kick start Force India’s season. In Canada, this time it was Perez who missed out on a top ten finish and it was Hulkenburg who finished in the points by coming home in eighth. The points were now coming and what was to come next for Hulkenburg was a moment he will look back on with great memories.
He became the envy of the F1 grid after winning the small matter of the Le Mans 24 Hours on his debut alongside Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber. A phenomenal achievement and no doubt a moment he will never forget.
After winning Le Mans, it was pretty obvious Nico had a spring in his step and he then went onto finish a season best sixth in Austria. The eagerly awaited B-spec car arrived for Silverstone and the benefits of the updated VJM08 were felt straight away.
Hulkenburg went onto finish seventh at the British Grand Prix and Perez came home in ninth.
Perez more or less has played second fiddle to Hulkenburg since Canada but the Mexican finished ninth in Austria and Great Britain to score valuable points for the team. It has been an up and down year for Sergio and for sure in the second half of the season, he will want to regain the edge over his team-mate.
Punching above their weight
Sahara Force India for me have always been punching above their weight in Formula One and you have to credit everyone at the team for where they are now. I find it quite remarkable that the team are currently ahead of Lotus and McLaren, two championship winning constructors teams, and Toro Rosso in the standings.
Whether they are ahead of them come the end of the season, only time will tell. But it just goes to show how far Sahara Force India have come and they continue to improve year by year and take the fight to teams that have much bigger budgets to operate with.
The second half of the season gets underway this time next week and what a track to go to – Spa-Francorchamps. Force India have always tended to pick up strong results at Spa. Hulkenburg in his first stint at Force India finished fourth in 2012.
We have had some classics at Belgium and I’ve got a sneaky suspicion that we are going to have another great race in the Ardennes Forest. I am already looking forward to it.