Esteban Ocon, Force India, Suzuka, 2017

Force India’s rate of development was best yet in 2017 – Szafnauer

2017 F1 season

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Force India’s chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer says the team hit new heights with the rate of development on its car during 2017.

“I can’t remember a year where we brought so many new parts to the track,” he told the team’s website. “At almost every race there was something different on the car.”

The team ended the year fourth in the championship with the VJM10, repeating the best-ever result they had also achieved in 2016.

“In the second half of 2017 we took some significant development steps and emerged as the fourth quickest team at most of the races after the summer break,” said Szafnauer. “Even when we had secured fourth, we were able to bring 2018 development parts to the car to help our learning for next year.”

However Szafnauer said the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, where the team’s drivers collided while in the running for podium finishes, had been hard to take.

“Our car was very strong that weekend and the missed opportunity of a double podium was difficult to swallow,” he said. “However, I’m proud of the way we bounced back from those difficult moments and showed a unified team spirit. That’s been a real highlight of the season.”

Force India took a best-ever points haul of 187, 14 more than they scored last year when there was one more race on the calendar. Sergio Perez was the team’s best-placed driver in the championship, finishing seventh for the second year in a row.

2017 F1 season

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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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  • 13 comments on “Force India’s rate of development was best yet in 2017 – Szafnauer”

    1. next year McLaren should step up to P3/P4. FI only hope can be those incredible Merc engines with 1000 BHP.. Fascinating to see who will come better..

    2. With all the things Mercedes has done right in the past few years, I can”t help but think the real ‘team of the hybrid era’ has been Force India.

      1. I heard them described on a Sky season review as the ‘best pound for pound team’ and thought it was a perfect description.

        Huge respect for what the staff have done with a limited budget, especially over the last two seasons.

        1. I must say that they sure are doing an impressive job. And they also keep up a great driver choice to pair with the excellent job they do on the car. Really a racing team as one would wish they could all be.

    3. Fernando rosales
      18th December 2017, 15:43

      Pound for pound, best drivers and best team

    4. Plus the car is one of the best looking 2017 racecars.

      1. are you sure? All I’m seeing is a pink mess of a livery.

        1. Taste is subjective, though I do not hate the livery, I do think they could do a better job. However, BWT insists on the overall design control to follow their branding across all of their sponsored race cars so there could be little that FI could do.

          One point though, they could have made the driver numbers appear differently. Let us see what is in store for us next year, then.

      2. Oh really? Well, there’s no accounting for taste, they say

        (I am trying to detect sarcasm in your comment but it doesn’t quite check out)

    5. Perhaps some of the other teams could learn a thing or two from the way this team has gone about things.

      Definitely a great story and I think one of the more interesting teams in the competition.

    6. To all the Vijay Mallya and Subroto Roy Sahara haters, please skip this comment. Do even not bother responding to it either…

      I have been a fan of Force India because it is the first F1 team to bear an Indian license. The nationality played a big part in me immediately rooting for FI while I still rooted for my other favorites. And I often have looked up to Vijay Mallya as an idol for his business acumen and someone who knows how to enjoy money he made. He is often known as King of Good Times, even when he used to throw F1 parties.

      What makes most of the news though has been the team and its performance. To be an underdog and punch above the weight consistently is a huge, huge achievement. Last year, everyone was doubting team’s ability, baring a few, that they would be able to maintain their 4th standing in the constructors. This year, they just shown they can do it.

      Credit to Williams to come up with the worst driver pairing, and not producing competitive car. The iconic team’s struggles are not over yet, given they are still wondering which driver they should employ. McLaren Honda’s engine also helped, given that they lost the 5th to McLaren with Mercedes engine in 2014 Abu-Double. Force India never made a bone about hiring the best possible drivers for the team, and even toyed the idea of pay drivers only if they were down to their knickers.

      Hulkenberg, Perez and Ocon were the best possible drivers they could pick up, and ready to work with them. The sign was ominous the moment they signed Giancarlo Fisichella, who even though was not the best choice for a top team at that time, but better than the best FI could manage that year. I honestly think, the drivers played a huge role in moving FI into 4th this year as well and between Ocon and Wehrline, they perhaps made the best choice. Between these two, Ocon was definitely better not only inside the car but how he brought in a bit of chutzpah into the team.

      The forthcoming season though will really show if they can still hold on to the 4th or even dream to move one place up the ladder at the best. Like last year, I doubt if they can hold on to 4th, however we will never know unless mid-season next year. I hope the Pink Panthers keep it up, like they have done in the last 4 years.

    7. That car would look so much better without that shark fin.

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