[F1 2018 NEWS FEATURE] FORCE INDIA: STORM AHEAD

Force India is preparing for its toughest battle yet. The compact Silverstone squad has led F1’s midfield across the past two years, finishing fourth in the constructors’ standings behind the top teams – 2017 its best-ever season with 16 double points finishes.

But the rise of McLaren and Renault are expected to challenge that status, forcing the independent squad to again up its game.

SOUNDBITE (English) SERGIO PÉREZ,
F1 DRIVER, FORCE INDIA:
“It’s going to be a massive fight. I think it’s going to be the most challenging year for Force India so far. But I believe in this team. And I think we are up for the fight.”

The covers came off the VJM11 on the opening day of pre-season testing in Barcelona – Sergio Pérez and Esteban Ocon unveiling an updated Pink Panther concept that retained its innovative nose.

But the ensuring development war across the equal longest season in F1 history will be stacked against it, in financial terms at least… 

Force India operated last year on the grid’s lowest budget – just 97 million pounds: 53 million less than Renault, and 78 million from McLaren. Ferrari was the biggest spender, running on 350 million pounds. 

So the quality of its updates and its driver performance will – as always – be crucial. Pérez is fired up, given he became a father over the break.

SOUNDBITE (English) SERGIO PÉREZ,
F1 DRIVER, FORCE INDIA:
“So far out of the car, it’s a massive motivation. You know, every time you think about your son and what you want to achieve.”

While Ocon has a clear goal to keep progressing as a Mercedes protege, and that is to destroy Pérez in competition.

SOUNDBITE (English) ESTEBAN OCON,
F1 DRIVER, FORCE INDIA:
“For sure, my target will be to beat him. And I want to start stronger straight away with the experience I have now, so yeah, let’s do it.”

It’s all on the line as Force India marches into its most brutal stoush yet, but the squad is firmly focused on the long game.

SOUNDBITE (English) SERGIO PÉREZ,
F1 DRIVER, FORCE INDIA:
“It’s going to be a long season. I always say it doesn’t really matter where you start, it’s where you finish. And this team has done really well in the past.”