After early season woes, Force India turned their fortunes with the introduction of the B-Spec car at Silverstone, finishing a creditable fifth in the championship.
Circumstances at the start of 2015 season were far from ideal for Force India, with the VJM08 barely ready for the final pre-season test in Barcelona. A change of windtunnel, combined with cash flow issues, delayed production of the car and delivery from suppliers, meaning the team started the year on the backfoot.
Moreover, the VJM08 was only a minor upgrade over its predecessor, leaving a tall order to chase for the drivers. But Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez did a fine job in the first eight races of the season, seizing every points-scoring opportunity.
In Austria, Hulkenberg crossed the finishing line in sixth position, with Perez not far behind to score a double points finish for Force India. At this point of the season, the team were fifth in the championship with 31 points, just over 20 points short of Red Bull.
Then came Silverstone where Force India rolled out its much delayed B-Spec car from the pitlane. The race marked a turnaround in the fortunes for the team, with Hulkenberg and Perez immediately impressing in a wet/dry Silverstone thriller.
The result prelude to a slew of strong results as Force India re-established itself as a regular points scorer. Perez led the charge for the squad, scoring multiple top-five finishes and even finishing on the podium in Russia. At that occasion, Perez exploited his ability to eke out more life from his tyres to deliver a surprise, but deserved result for the Silverstone-based outfit.
Contrary to Perez, Hulkenberg had a low-key second half of the season, marred with reliability issues and retirements. But whenever the German made it to the chequered flag, he brought with him a decent haul of points.
Financial issues continue
Although fifth position in the constructors championship ensures a higher share of FOM’s prize money pot next year, it still receives little compared to the CCB teams.
The financial troubles of owners Vijay Mallya (although his other companies, where he has sold majority of his stake, continue to perform well), and Subrata Roy have inevitably had an impact on the team.
It increasingly relies on backing from Mexican sponsors who would jump ship when Perez finds a better drive.
No wonder why they filed a complaint to European Union, along with Sauber, questioning the revenue distribution and decision making process in Formula 1
Summing it up
Force India received plenty of plaudits for finishing fifth in the constructors standings - the highest ever in its eighth year history. The B-Spec car delivered to its high-expectations and one can’t help but wonder how the season would have panned out, had it been introduced earlier in the year.
The team is blessed with one of the best driver line-ups on the grid, with Perez and Hulkenberg pushing the team forward to greater glory.
The switch to Toyota’s windtunnel - regarded by many as one of the best in the business - was much needed. Force India’s in-house facility in Silverstone was only designed for 40% scale models while regulations allow up 60%. Moreover, a promised upgrade to the windtunnel never arrived, forcing the team to switch to outsourcing.
Another contributory factor to the upswing in Force India’s performance was the upgradation of its CFD facilities - something teams have to increasingly rely on due to restrictions on windtunnel usage.
by Rachit Thukral