When the VJM08 made its much delayed debut in pre-season testing, it was clear that Force India were set to endure a tough start to the 2015 season. Financial troubles and a change of windtunnel had hindered the development of the car, and not much was expected from the Silverstone squad until a major upgrade.
However, as it’s turned out, Force India are currently 7th in the constructors standings, tied with Sauber who are placed higher thanks to Nasr’s fifth place result in Australia. The team has scored points in four out of seven races held so far and are are expected to finish in the top 10 at the next round of the season in Austria. All with what is essentially an upgraded 2014 car.
So how have Force India punched above their weight this season? The answer lies in snatching every opportunity thrown to them. At the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, Hulkenberg and Perez grabbed a total of seven points on a day when only 11 cars made it to the chequered flag. On pure one-lap pace, the car was utterly slow and languished in 14th and 15th places on the grid. However, better race pace and reliability played to their hands come Sunday.
Similarly in Monaco, Sergio Perez qualified an excellent seventh and held his positions on the tight and twisty streets to add six more points to his tally. In this case, the Mexican had capitalised on Williams’ one-off troubles.
Having a powerful Mercedes engine on the back of the VJM08 has also been vital in their damage limitation drive, as vindicated from their top-10 finishes in Bahrain and Canada - two power tracks.
Whatever the case might be, a lot of credit goes to drivers Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg for keeping the morale high in the team and getting most out of the machinery. Perez, in particular, has been the more impressive of the two this season; he himself believes he is performing at his very best.
Pinning hopes on B-spec car
Now that the ultra-efficient Force India team has made most of their launch-spec car, it would only be fair to raise the expectations from the planned Silverstone upgrade(often referred as a B-spec car by Force India chiefs).
Force India started their last year's campaign with a strong car that could consistently finish in the top five and knock on the doors of a podium slot. With upgraded CFD facilities and the switch to Toyota windtunnel, the engineers at Silverstone need to deliver the same form with the upgrade.
The resultant extra share of prize money would be useful to maintain Force India’s hold on the midfield. It would also mean the team retains its position in F1’s decision making body - the Strategy Group.