Sergio Perez, Force India, Bahrain International Circuit, 2018

Force India counting on reliability in fight for fourth with Renault

2018 F1 season

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Force India believes it can regain fourth place in the constructors’ championship despite its shaky start to the 2018 F1 season.

Deputy team principal Bob Fernley tipped Renault to be their most consistent rival based on their performance in the opening races. But he expects the reliability of their Mercedes power unit will give them an advantage in the closely-fought midfield battle.

“It’s so competitive,” he told RaceFans in Azerbaijan. “We can have a Haas coming in there, you can have a McLaren coming in there [and] Renault is a constant issue.

“Whether we can overcome that deficit also depends on things like power units and stuff like that. We’re on a three power unit programme, how well that’s going to go with Renault during the year, there’s all sorts of other things coming into it with reliability through the year. From our side we’ve constantly proved our reliability.”

Force India took fourth place in the constructors’ championship in the past two seasons. Asked before the race whether he thought Force India could finish fourth in the championship for a third year in a row, Fernley said: “Nothing’s impossible.”

“If you actually go back to 2016 and look at the deficit between us and Williams halfway through the season it didn’t look possible to overtake them and we did.”

Renault has greater resources than Force India, Fernley admitted, “but in all fairness, so did Williams in 2016.”

The team has been playing catch-up since it discovered a problem with its aerodynamics ahead of the first race of the year.

“We’ve been building over the last few races,” said Fernley. “We had a good qualifying in China as well and just missed getting both of them into Q3 on that one, which I think we should’ve done.

“It started with all the good work we did in Bahrain, a fantastic team effort there, and we’re seeing some of the benefits from it now.”

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8 comments on “Force India counting on reliability in fight for fourth with Renault”

  1. In these last two seasons FI has proven to be a strong and very competitive team, with a low budget they have managed to maximize their strengths, I believe that this year they have a good challenge in front, with a tighter midfield, but the main strength of FI is in their drivers, the pair of Ocon and Perez is stronger than Sains and Hülkenberg, that Grosjean and Magnussen, in the drivers will be the key to success for FI.

    Ocon and Perez can not repeat the story of Ricciardo and Verstappen, an error in FI and stop fighting for the fourth place in the championship.

    Esteban and Sergio have to fight hard but in a fair way, just for the team, and for themselves too, they can not lose their heads, if they manage to keep both on the court without touching, both can finish very high at the end of the championship. Even a couple more podiums is a good possibility for FI.

    FI is a good team, with two very good drivers.

  2. Dieter / Keith – how inextricably linked are Mallya’s fortunes with the Force India team? i.e. If he is extradited or has his assets in the UK frozen/seized, how much might that impact the team? While justice being served might result in one of the former happening to Mallya himself, I’d be saddened if that were to have a knock-on effect on the team. Seeing as they team are already quite constrained financially, that might just end up being the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

  3. Is Force India saying this because they are looking for sponsors? Fisrst they claim that with 10 million extra they could fight for third place. Yeah right.

    Force India has profited well from the Mercedes engine being the best of the lot. The differences in engine performance are getting smaller quickly even though in Baku it looked to have helped them still against the Renault powered cars.

    So far Renault and McLaren look ahead of FI overall.

    With Haas driving essentially what was the 2017 Ferrari (which could have won the championship if Vettel and Ferrari hadn’t imploded when the going got tough) they are a big competitor too. Although like the original car, they keep “imploding” instead of actually scoring the points.

    So there are now essentially 4 teams fighting for that 4th spot in the WDC.

    Right now it actually looks like FI need to worry more that they don’t become last of those 4 and perhaps even end up fighting STR.

    1. Kind of agree kinda don’t.

      I don’t think the Haas is up to the 2017 ferrari, the qualifying times don’t support that. They’re also a tiny team, pretty much the smallest on the grid so their inseason development ability is very limited compared to renault, mclaren and even FI. FI are kidding themselves though if they think they can keep up with mclaren and renault this year who yeah they’re actually behind except for power dominant circuits. I do think they have the resources, car and ability to keep sauber, TR (barring a massive step from honda which baku showed is still significantly down on even the renault pu), williams and haas behind them, 6th seems likely for them this year and all they can hope for really barring some horrendous renault pu reliability issues from their upgraded engine this weekend onwards.

  4. I think Force India’s best chance at 4th in the WCC was to start off the season with a stronger car than Renault and McLaren, and capitalise at the start of the season. Unfortunately, I just don’t think they have the budget to out develop Renault and McLaren, nor do they have the drivers to really challenge those two teams either. So, realistically, I think they’ve got little to no chance at getting 4th in the WCC.

    They do have a shot at beating Haas (even though it’s the Ferrari 2017 challenger), as I do think that Force India has a better understanding of their own design and is a better team than Haas overall. I also think that Force India’s driver line up is stronger than Haas’ and that should make a big difference in a close battle between them. So, 6th in the WCC should be their realistic target this year.

    1. @todfod You’re right, they missed grabbing those early points, but I’d have to disagree with you about their drivers.

      Perez & Ocon – two highly rated drivers and as a combination I’d say they’re at least as capable as Alonso/Vandoorne (Vandoorne let’s that pairing down) and marginally better than Hulkenburg/Sainz..

      I think Fearnley’s point about Renault PU’s might be valid too so what FI missed at the start this year, they may gain at the end of the season as of all the Manufacturers likely to have difficulty finishing a season on 3 PU’s Renault is right up there with Honda.

      1. @dbradock

        Agree about the reliability part, it definitely works in FI’s favour… but I think it will only affect their rivals for a few races. Overall, the stronger team would win regardless of those small grid drops. It is an advantage that Force India has, but I believe consistent performances would dictate the battle for 4th.

        Regarding drivers, I think you’re being harsh on Vandoorne. He’s had points finishes in 3 out of the 4 races so far even though his car isn’t any quicker than the Force Indias in qualifying pace. He’s finished close to Fernando on a couple of occasions, and he should get better as the season goes on. Neither of FI drivers even come close to Fernando in performance, which is why I rate McLaren higher than both of them.

        It’s close between the Renault drivers. I rate Hulkenberg around the same as Perez and Sainz slightly higher than Ocon, but I feel the major differentiator will be the teammate chemistry that Hulk & sainz have are far superior to Perez & Ocon’s constant squabbling \ error prone team mate battles on display between the FI drivers.

  5. Now that Force India have identified the issue the was causing them problems at the start of the season, I expect they’ll be at the head of the mid field again a lot of the time. I’d put a little money on them being 4th again this season. If Baku was anything to go by, they were best of the rest in qualifying.

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