The 2018 season was one of two halves for the team formerly known as Force India, now Racing Point F1 until a new name is appointed next year.
The compact Silverstone squad came into the season on a high, 2017 its best-ever campaign, fourth place with 16 double points finishes.
But, McLaren and Renault were 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.”
But, Force India arrived at the opening round in Australia behind the eight ball, after completing the third fewest laps in pre-season testing – and with an upgrade package it didn’t yet fully understand…
Sergio Pérez took a podium in Azerbaijan, as part of eight top-10 results from the first 12 races, and Esteban Ocon managed six, before the squad was plunged in administration post-Hungary.
The administrators tried to sell the team as a going concern, but when 13 Indian creditor banks failed to give approval, its assets were sold to the Lawrence Stroll- led consortium, and the team was forced to rejoin the sport as an all-new entity with its points reset. Though it retained earned income.
From there, Pérez scored points in seven of the last nine races – Ocon in four of the last nine for double points in Belgium, Italy, Russia and Japan, one more than the team had achieved in the first half.
The new Racing Point Force India team finished the season seventh with 52 points: 10 points behind McLaren despite competing in just nine races. And its next car should be even stronger with the resources behind it now to create a solid technical package with consistent updates.
For 2019, Pérez will be joined by Lawrence Stroll’s son Lance, who hopes to turn around his career after two tough seasons at Williams.
But the Canadian will find it difficult to turnaround popular opinion – which has him pegged as a supe-rich pay driver, his father’s purchase doing nothing to help that. A string of strong results the only remedy.