Force India’s upward trajectory continued in 2016, with Silverstone-based outfit beating fellow independent Williams to fourth place in the constructors championship.
Force India’s success in 2016 was a culmination of the efforts taken by the Silverstone-based outfit to establish itself as a credible midfielder.
While switch to the Toyota windtunnel is well-known, upgradation of in-house CFD facilities was equally important in taking the team forward.
Add in a Mercedes and you get a squad that punches above its weight.
Not to mention that Force India employs two highly-rated drivers on the grid, having only resorted to pay drivers for test role and practice outings.
Much like 2015, Force India made a slow start to the season which left the outfit trailing its rivals in the constructors standings.
However, a major upgrade in Barcelona changed the fortunes for the team, catapulting it ahead of Williams in the standings.
The effect of the upgrade was not evident immediately, with Force India taking its time to fully understand and optimise it.
However, once they did Force India could regularly jostle for higher points-paying positions, with two podium finishes in Monaco and Baku being the highlight.
The VJM09 was just as quick over one lap, as attested by drivers Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg throughout the season. Most noteworthy performance came in Baku where Perez qualified second in dry conditions during what was Force India’s most competitive weekend of the season.
Force India retained Perez and Hulkenberg for a third season and the driver pairing didn’t disappoint whatsoever.
Perez continued to grab headline results, but also improved his consistency. The Mexican ended the season with a run of 10 successive point finishes, showing how he has developed into a well-rounded driver.
Hulkenberg was just as impressive, although raw stats do little to justify what he managed to achieve in his final year at Force India. He lost a possible podium at Monaco through a strategic error, while excessive tyre wear meant that he couldn’t convert his third place grid spot into a podium in Austria.
Force India will celebrate 10 years in Formula 1 next season. Had the regulations been stable, one could have bet they would do just a stellar job. However, a major changes to car’s aerodynamics means the team can head either side of the points table. Only time will tell...
by Rachit Thukral