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Force India “feels fantastic” to finish fourth in F1 constructors’ championship, is that the limit?
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Posted By: Alex Kalinauckas  |  28 Nov 2016   |  9:03 pm GMT  |  38 comments

Force India clinched its best ever finish in the Formula 1 constructors’ championship with 10 points from last weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix cementing its fourth place in the 2016 standings.

The Silverstone-based team’s triumph over Williams for the best-of-the-rest position behind Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari was guaranteed when Valtteri Bottas retired from the race at the Yas Marina circuit with a suspension problem.

Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez finished seventh and eighth, and with Felipe Massa ninth in his final F1 race, Force India beat Williams to fourth in the constructors’ championship by 35 points.

Nico Hulkenberg

The former Jordan outfit has been steadily moving up the grid in recent seasons despite having a significantly smaller budget and staffing level compared to its rivals.

The fifth place Force India achieved in the 2015 season was its previous best finish, but it went one better this year to the delight of its deputy team principal, Bob Fernley.

“To end the season with two cars solidly inside the points and with fourth place in the constructors’ championship feels fantastic,” he said.

Bob Fernley

“It has been a tremendous year for us and it’s important to pay tribute to each and every member of the team for all their hard work and hours of dedication back at base and at the track.

“All the effort has paid off and we can now celebrate the best ever year in our history.”

In addition to its best ever finishing position in the constructors’ championship, Force India also scored more points than it ever has in a single season with 173, and secured two podiums in one season for the first time in its history (both courtesy of Perez at the Monaco and Baku races).

Sergio Perez

After scoring just two points finishes in the first four races of the season, the team’s fortunes improved significantly when it introduced a major upgrade at the Spanish Grand Prix, which included a new front wing, floor, sidepods and other bodywork – that were designed to improve the handling range of the VJM09.

Since that race in Barcelona, the team only failed to score points with at least one car at the Austrian Grand Prix, where severe degradation stopped Hulkenberg from converting his front row grid spot into a good result and both he and Perez were eventually forced out with brake problems.

Hulkenberg will leave Force India to join Renault for 2017 and although he described his final Grand Prix for the team as “quite a simple and lonely race”, he paid tribute to the squad where he has spent five seasons (one as a test driver in 2011) of his F1 career.

Nico Hulkenberg

He said: “Everybody deserves congratulations and big credit for the amazing job this year. I leave this team with lots of happy memories and Force India will always be a part of my life. I’ve learned a huge amount here and they have made me a better racing driver. We’ve grown up together and I’m proud of what we have achieved.”

Fernley hailed Hulkenberg’s contribution to the team and also praised Perez, who has scored four podiums for the squad since 2014 and also became the first Force India driver to score over 100 points in a single F1 season with 101 in 2016.

“Both drivers did a super job today, as they have done all year long,” he said. “It’s great that Nico could end his time with us on a high note and we thank him for everything he has done for us during his five years as a Force India driver. He’s been a big part of our journey up the grid and it has been a pleasure working with him.

Sergio Perez

“Credit to Sergio, as well, who becomes the first Force India driver to cross the 100 points in a season milestone. He’s been exceptional this year and fully deserves to finish seventh in the drivers’ championship.”

Perez will remain with Force India for 2017 where he will be partnered with Esteban Ocon, the Mercedes junior driver who joins the team from Manor. It will be a challenge to remain in the top five next season with works squads Renault and McLaren Honda likely to push forward up the grid.

The Mexican driver described his pleasure at helping to secure Force India’s best ever position in the constructors’ championship and his delight at fending off Massa at the end of the race in Abu Dhabi. In the end, both the Williams driver and McLaren’s Fernando Alonso were within just over a second of Perez at the finish line.

Sergio Perez

“I am pleased with my race,” said Perez. “I finished where I started and it was a quiet race for most of it, but it got a bit tense in the final laps when I had to fend off Felipe [Massa].

“I pushed really hard at the beginning of my stints, trying to close the gap to Nico, but in the end I finished just behind him. It was great to finish the season with some points and to end an incredible year with a good result.”

What have you made of Force India’s performance in 2016? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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1

👏Congratulations to Force India👏
Williams need a miracle next year.

2

Force india have done a incredible job this year…they have been the most efficient in terms of budget and they have a pretty good driver line up and a guy who’s too good on the tyres ..who knows they may do a brawn and they are capable of it…we may just see Sergio clinch it 😉

3

“Do a Brawn” : that should go straight into a modern expression dictionary

4

Sfi has the most efficient team of 2016 in terms of budget …force india still have a extra spring in their step ..who knows they may do a brawn …they have the capability….Sergio Perez may just clinch it next year😉

5

It was a great performance by Force India. I’ve got a question about comments on this site. On some articles I’ve read on here today, some comments only have the option to share not like/upvote, is it because the article is classed as closed or something like that?

6

Not sure what you mean by this as no articles are closed to comments. The plus button on the bottom left of each comment is for liking/upvoting. Hope that helps.

7

I can second John Blair’s comment. It does happen sometimes that the circled plus button is absent from an occasional comment. I have certainly noticed it absent from some of James Allen’s comments, can’t recall beyond that. Scrolling through recent articles just now am not catching any.

Browser page loading error? Device script error? Quirky forum design issue for a certain degree of comment nested-ness? Accidentally un-/ticked box for an individual message by someone at Mod level / in Mod mode? …I wouldn’t know, just shooting in the dark.

8

Thanks Alex,

It might be an issue with my browser, sometimes the comments don’t have the + button. I’ve just opened another tab, and gone to the article on Nico & Keke Rosberg, it happens when I sort it by Newest.

9

Ah, yep I see what you mean now. We’ll ask the tech guys to look into it.

10

Force India was a team with team drivers. How often in the last years they did split strategies to bring at least one driver into the ‘heavy’ points. Often one driver was on a longer run to keep the field together for the one with a stop more and faster tyres. 9th+10th are less points than a 7th place.
FI is one of the teams were i think having Lewis may have resulted in less team points. Lewis and split strategies and his team mate luckily having the better strategy for a race? Not with Lewis, he would call this foul play from FI.

Force India is a team were statistics which of the two drivers was better made nearly no sense.

11

Force india show how it should be done, congrats to them, i have always been a fan and its good to see them up there, who knows if they manage to read the new regs different to the next team and find a loop hole they could jump up a notch, did hulk make the right choice ? Im not so sure but then if he dosnt move hed never know. Mclaren really need to step up next year and ferrari need so much work in so many areas i think force india have a good team , good car, good attitude, and mostly good race strategy the whole package works where others fail.
Congrats again ! Look forward to next year 😉

12

its kind of blessing in disguise for hulk and sfi both

hulk can move ahead in career path and perez will get a new young challenger!

13

I primarily started to follow Force India years ago because of HUL and over the years This team was a joy to watch and grow. I don’t know everything about FI’s ownership issues and business dealings but when VJ hired Bob and Otmar he hit the lotto. With what resources they had to work with 4th was nothing short of a small miracle. Makes me wonder if there was a spending cap if they wouldn’t have taken the constructors championship:) .their driver pairing is also first rate. This is what can happen when two talented guys work together to push a team forward, unlike the pay for a drive and peacocks at the pointy end of the grid guys. FI are true racers and hope they continue to be successful but as others have stated Renault and Mclaren will make progress with the vast resources they have at their disposal.
After HUL signed with Renault his luck seemed to have turned a bit so perhaps soon he gets his podium opportunities. It will be fun to watch he and Checo do battle on different teams next year.

14

Great result for the sport & for smaller teams to have an example of what can be achieved.

Also shows wha having two good drivers can do rather than those buying seats.

15

Truly excellent guys! Great great job! If they have figured out hack to maximize Merc engine then they wont struggle too much to stay within top 5 in 2017. Mclaren and TR will be main rivals.

16

Force India is always a joy to cheer for, punching above their weight, seemingly not distracted by going-ons either in the team or in F1 generally. Shame about Nico departing. Force India resurrected Sergio’s career and he payed them back – wow 100 points!

17

Hi JA, thia team deserves more than this.. during first few races everyone were telling this is the end of force India. But after Spanish gp they introduced new upgrades which helped them secure 4th. Without some first lap collisions, costly spin in Baku quali and puncture in Brazil for hulk and collision for Perez in FP3 they could have achieved even more this season.. anyhow they made their mark with the limited budget and resources. Following F1 for the last 6 years and being and Indian proud to see a team named after our country doing so good in the sport (except Vijay Malaya’s disgusting financial blunders). Hope they Will get at least 6th next season.

18

“Yes, yes, well done Williams, well done Williams. However, recent events must be taken into account.

It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to pay drivers. I therefore award thirty five points to Mr. Vijay Mallaya

19

Let’s assume McLaren and Renault get up to fighting strength, then they probably will surpass Force India.

However that being said. Does it hurt Renault Motorsport bosses to see Red Bull beating them despite the whole Tag Heuer charade? Food for thought.

20

Not necessarily. It’s actually a good thing to see how well Redbull is doing. It gives perspective to Renault bosses of what they can also achieve if they can work as well as Redbull. To an absolute minimum, Renault should be aiming to equal Redbull performance, anything less is under performing.

21

Congratulations to FI. It is great to see healthy competition between two indie, non-corporate teams at a very respectable level in the series.

22

Congrats to FI for the results, as well as to both drivers
Both drove well with no major “diva” issues, sometimes out performing the car, others just bringing the bacon home in a very proffessional, consistent style

Hope they can do well next year but they have to take points early in the season when everybody is still settling into the new rules/cars
After that it is likely Renault and McLaren will improve more than FI with their bigger budgets and will be hard to repeat this year’s standings (unless they do a Brawn)

23

Brawn was a very special case that doesn’t really apply to FI.

Having said that I agree with everything else and also hope to see them continue their upward trend in 2017 🙂

24

It was a real treat to watch FI the last two years, I always enjoy watching an underdog.

My hope for 2017 is that, by signing Ocon to parter Perez, FI will be able to design a car which can really take advantage of Sergio’s tire conservation. I think Ocon’s style is closer to that of Perez as opposed to Hulk, who is much more aggressive on tires.

I would love to see FI pick up a win in 2017. It would be a sign that at least 1 team in F1 is doing it right >.<

25

Twitch, fully agree as usual…

26

Mr Marchionne,
If you’re reading this please pay attention. If you’re not, why not!!???
You need to call Bob Fearnley and offer him the main role at Maranello. It will take a couple of years but then Ferrari will dominate.
If Bob can take Force India to fourth on limited funds, imagine what he could achieve with Ferrari’s treasure chest

27

Hero, that’s a good point. Bob is clearly doing a good job, hard to see how they could possibly do any more with the money available, and yet you never hear his name mentioned as one of the superstar team members. Maybe he is too quiet about his own achievements for teams like Ferrari to take note, but he probably has the best claim to be the man most responsible for their success. With one owner in jail and the other on the run, he is the man who is actually running that team.

28

Lets come out of the mindset that, one man’s performance alone steers the team into Success. I thought, FI is doomed, when James Key left. It takes a monumental effort to make Ferrari great again! (lol)

29

Its a different matter running a small tight and dynamic team like FI and a sprawling, bureaucratic “corporate” team like Ferrari. Fearnley may not be suited for that role, or equally may not be interested in that kind of environment.

30

I would rather say Ferrari must lern from FI please please please give stability to your team that is the key i dont know why james left Ferrari but if it is because of not making a championship winning car than its pitty cause this car haven’t won a race still it was not a bad car at all merc is unbeatable its true at this moment but it will take time to defeat them so plz stay calm n support the team at bad time.

32

Force India have clearly spent their money wisely and I wouldn’t rule out them pushing on a bit further. You’d expect Mercedes and Red Bull to be the top two and who knows what Ferrari will do over the winter. In Perez they have an excellent driver too.

All things considered you can’t rule out any team bar Manor Sauber and Haas making a push for 3rd IMO.

33

They deserve it, considering the budget available they must be an extremely tight unit. Beating Williams with the same engine and much less money is an amazing achievement.

34

At last, someone else recognises what a dazzling achievement Force India have…………er, achieved! I’ve been banging on since the European-Canadian season just good their developments, and updates have been, and how they could beat Williams into fourth place in the constructors cup………..

F.I. may not have the capital and resources of their rivals, but they are very well organised, disciplined, operationally savvy (how many bungled pit stops and strategic blunders do you see from F.I.?) and above all, a technical department that has direction and clarity of thought in what it is trying to do.

Penny for my thoughts, but I think the main reason this year’s chassis has been good is because instead of the technical depo chasing big downforce numbers, the strategy has been to produce 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑠𝑖𝑠𝑡𝑒𝑛𝑡 downforce while not neglecting the mechanical aspects. It’s notable that Checo’s podiums were on the tight, bumpy streets of Monaco and Baku, and both Hulk and Checo were strong in wet conditions in Silverstone and Brazil, suggesting good mechanical grip generation. The biggest myth in racing is absolute downforce is king, but if you neglect the mechanical part of the chassis – wheels, axles, suspension, brakes, steering, wheel nuts – then that puts the drivers at a disadvantage in slow corners where mechanical grip is more of the equation than raw downforce which doesn’t make that much of a difference in the slower corners. Don’t forget, more downforce means greater stress and abuse on the mechanical layout because of the extra force – all the components have to be strengthened and tested, and that takes up a lot of time – and money which eats into development.

Taken in the round, Force India are a lean, tight well drilled organisation who have been a revelation in 2016.

35

Yes I think it probably is the limit . Force India do well on a small budget but they are never going to overhaul this years top 3 (Ferrari, Mercedes and RBR) as those 3 teams just have too much in terms of extra resources for FI to compete with. McLaren and Renault I feel will be resurgent next year too.

36
Tornillo Amarillo

And Williams? In 2017 FORCE INDIA can found themselves in P7 behind Merc, RB, Ferrari, McLaren, Renault, Williams, and I don’t know about Haas, even Sauber will improve, the points I guess will be harder to earn, P7 and P8 for drivers will not be guaranteed at all.
Therefore, I think that Perez decision to stay is clearly risky for his career.

And where will be Toro Rosso and my friend Sainz?

Some drivers will be very motivated to perform, like Vandoorne, KMag and Palmer, but you can say that Perez-Ocon is a high profile driver lineup too.

Maybe at the end of the day driver’s P7 will be almost always for ALONSO I hope 🙂

37

Never say Never. I never thought, FI scores more than McLaren, Williams, Renault. It takes couple of stupid decisions from Ferrari or RB or Merc ( if it stays in F1).

38

If there were a “bang for the buck” award, accounting for budget, FI would have won it for sure.

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