Force India eye top five with strong driver pairing

2014 F1 season preview

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Seventh, sixth, seventh, sixth: Force India’s championship finishing positions since 2010. Have they found their level, or can they finally break into the top five teams this year?

Significantly, 2010 was also the first year the Silverstone-based team began using engines from Mercedes AMG High Performance Engines, who are based half an hour up the road in Brixworth.

Their powertrain promises to be one of the strongest cards in their hands this year, as the V6 turbos bearing the three-pointed star have been the standard-setters during pre-season testing.

Testing didn’t go quite as smoothly for Force India as it did for the other Mercedes-powered teams. Nonetheless they’ve already covered just short of 4,000km of running and took their turn at the top of the times sheets on more than one occasion.

The team played their hand well last year. Having seized the initiative early against midfield rivals such as Sauber in the constructors’ championship they were able to press on with developing their car for the new rules.

And although they have completely changed their driver line-up for this year it is arguably the strongest Force India have ever fielded.

Nico Hulkenberg returns to a team he already knows well having severed as a regular test driver in 2011 and raced for them the year after – culminating in that memorable performance in the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Meanwhile McLaren’s eagerness to give Kevin Magnussen a chance has allowed Force India to pick up another driver who has been touted as the next big thing – and one who brings the lucrative backing of several Mexican sponsors – Sergio Perez.

That longed-for second podium finish has never looked a more realistic prospect for this team. They won’t get to perform in front of a home crowd this year, due to the dropping of the Indian Grand Prix, but it could still be a season to remember.

Force India’s F1 record

Championship position1097676
Pole positions010000

Over to you

What do you think Force India can achieve with Mercedes power and an exciting driver line-up? Have your say in the comments.

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Images © Force India

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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34 comments on “Force India eye top five with strong driver pairing”

  1. With a Mercedes engine I reckon they should be aiming for top four. Optimistic perhaps, but not impossible.

  2. Strongest line-up FI have ever had.
    Probably the best car they ever had in comparisson to the others.
    Probably the best chance with Renault wrestling.

    It’s up to them to give it their all.

    1. Yes, a great opportunity to get back up on the podium, while Renault are in a mess.
      Force India briefly looked like genuine front-runners last season (around Barcelona) before the tyre-spec change knocked them back. But I thought they lacked a bit of killer instinct; whether that was the team playing safe or the drivers, we’ll find out. I hope their strategies don’t hold Hulkenberg back; but they should know him well enough.

    2. @ardenflo Really? Are you considering Di Resta and Hulk?

      In perspective a great opportunity for FI.

      1. @peartree, I rate Di Resta quite low to be honest. He is a good DTM driver but I find him lack real pace to be in F1. Also all his moaning and always blaming it on the team didn’t really help.

        1. @ardenflo: +1, a driver always blaming the team in public can’t be very popular among the teams.

        2. @ardenflo Guess I rate honesty higher than most people.

  3. The Blade Runner (@)
    5th March 2014, 11:20

    Good luck to them. Both drivers more than deserve success, especially Hulkenberg.

  4. Strong pre-season showing and their most talented driver line-up since they first morphed into Force India in 2008.

    I’m very excited to see what they can achieve this season.

  5. Force India is probably the strongest it’s been since Jordan’s glory days. The best power unit, perhaps the strongest driver lineup outside the top teams, and a pretty decent car too… No doubt this will be their best year under the Force India name. They’ll almost certainly get that second podium and maybe even a win.

    However, I can’t see them breaking into the top 5 over a full season. They just don’t look quite as strong as the other three Mercedes teams, and it’s highly unlikely to assume that they’ll manage to beat Ferrari and Red Bull, despite their current problems.

  6. As stated in this article, the strongest driver pairing could hold the key to their uprise in the constructor’s championship.
    Good luck Nico, Sergio and the whole Force India team for the forthcoming season. I predict Force India to get 5th, 6th or a minimum 7th place in the constructor’s championship at the end of 2014.

    1. I think that’s called hedging your bets! ;O)

  7. How reassuring for Force India, to have one of the best drivers on the grid to ring the neck of this car: Hulkenberg. He’s done it every year he’s been in F1, and there is no doubt he’ll do it again this year, perhaps even more so.
    And not forgetting the other promising driver they have in Perez. Many may not agree with me, but I was impressed with his spell at McLaren, particularly near the end. He was a consistent points-scorer throughout for them in a difficult car, which I thought would make him a good no.2 driver for them for a few years. He can also spring up a few surprises as he did with Sauber in 2012. Add to that the sponsors he brings then this is very good deal for Force India.

    The driver line-up is strong and I can see both picking up podiums and being regular points-scorer if the car remains reliable. But they face stiff competition from Mercedes, McLaren, Ferrari, Red Bull and Williams to get 5th in the constructors’. It should be fascinating to watch!

    1. I should have also included Lotus in the stiff competition list, despite their problems.

  8. I actually believe we might see Force India winning this season. Maybe even as soon as Australia.

    1. I kinda agree with that and if at all that happens, Hulk will be the reason.

      But it will be an over optimistic thought. They have to run close to the top 4 to gain the nerve to break into the Top 2. Williams are the other underdogs who also have a good possibility of winning the WDC as well as WC.

      1. @jojobudgie What, Spencer? So it’s okay for you to have unbridled faith in Sauber – regardless of their current below-par driver line-up – but it’s not okay for someone else to have big dreams for Force India – with a great driver line-up?!

        If you want to comment on F1F, I suggest you learn to do so in a more respectful manner. Otherwise, maybe you should find somewhere else to play the spoilt brat.

          1. Does that mean I lost this one? :)

    2. Any car that looks like it can make it to the chequered flag has got to be a contender as a potential winner in Australia.

  9. So my prediction last true looks good to come through, but I doubt they’ll break the top 4, only a fifth as a maximum championship position.
    Mercedes McLaren and Williams definitely look stronger and Ferrari will outpace them development wise.
    It leaves Renault and RB to catch up with them, a bit like McLaren did last year…but the high unreliability at the first few races will be the determining factor.

  10. When the time is right , the Hulk will start to show his strength . I am not particularly a Force India fan , but now , with Hulk and Perez, it’s going to be a hungry team eager to show their mettle .I am looking forward to this year with interest .

  11. Force India can do well this year, Hulk said he never really did a low fuel run & also they did not have DRS for this test. That could mean they could have gone a lil bit faster than what times would suggest. However which can be said for most teams… we never know where everyone is until melbourne Saturday. On the downside if FI do win Melbourne, then we will see more SFI noses…. which is why i would like Merc to blast away …. so this nose thing get settled.

  12. Expect force india to do well, atleast for the sake of starting the development of their 2014 car very early last year. nearly compromising their 2013 campaign.

  13. Nikhil Bhandari
    5th March 2014, 20:26

    I am a great force india f1 team fan since 2008, i am really surprised by the way Team has progressed over the years ,With 2 new power full force Nico and sergio, its gonna be more exciting to watch… as the race season begins in australia,,,
    Now that car is reliable i hope they get aero updates in Australia . which would improve there qualifying pace ..
    williams and mercedes looks really quick.. and reliable

  14. Nikhil Bhandari
    5th March 2014, 20:26

    I am a great force india f1 team fan since 2008, i am really surprised by the way Team has progressed over the years ,With 2 new power full force Nico and sergio, its gonna be more exciting to watch… as the race season begins in australia,,,
    Now that car is reliable i hope they get aero updates in Australia . which would improve there qualifying pace ..
    williams and mercedes looks really quick.. and reliable

  15. I think if they can maximize their chances at the beginning of the season, they can get a good haul of points. Even that terrible MP4-24 of 2009 was winning races and getting podiums after the halfway point of the season.

    I’d be very surprised if RBR hasn’t overtaken FI just by pure development pace/funds by mid-season; that is, if they’re still way behind in Melbourne. What’s difficult to take into consideration is the engine cap (5?) over 19 races: when the most racing any engine has done so far is a “simulation” this could prove costly.

  16. unexpect the expected

  17. I’ve really come to like Force India over the years. Think it was Fisichella’s performances that first made me root for this underdog. Definitely the strongest line up and I’m so glad Hulkenberg ended up here rather than Lotus. Really think he can get some podiums this year and stick it to the ‘big teams’ that overlooked him.

    The only downside for me is the livery. Personally I hate it with the added black. They’ve been my favourite looking car over the past few years, but to me they’ve spoilt it.

  18. I’m not convinced by Mercedes engine superiority. Sure they appears to have a fast and powerful engine which is great for qualifying, but race strategy, fuel efficiency and reliability are going to be way more important this season.

    Force India have a good driver line-up. But both drivers are overrated as far as I’m concerned. They are capable of good results, but I don’t see them as a threat for multiple podiums or wins. Their best chance will come in the opening 4 races, but by the time we get back to Europe.. I think most teams will have caught up in terms of reliability and performance.

  19. I believe 5th is actually a very credible position. I also agree with @lejimster82 when he says both drivers are overrated but they are the best lineup they have had in a while so it´ll be nice to see what they can produce!

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