Racing Point Force India finished the 2018 season in seventh place in the constructors’ standings, the squad’s lowest result since 2012 when Nico Hülkenberg and Paul di Resta raced the VJM05…
But, the outfit’s results can only be counted since the Belgian Grand Prix, from which it became a new entity and its points were reset; following its acquisition by the Lawrence Stroll-led Racing Point consortium.
The new entry finished on 52 points…four ahead of Sauber and 10 behind rival McLaren, with four double points finishes from nine races, one more than it did across the first 12 events racing as Force India.
All of which points to the fact that the minnow squad is in a better place under its new ownership, with the ability to flex the financial muscle required to race.
It was a different story at the start of the season in Australia, when Force India arrived in Melbourne with a new upgrade package, but little time to understand it, and few spares.
SOUNDBITE (English) ESTEBAN OCON,
FORCE INDIA 2017-2018:
“Any parts we have, we have to be careful to not break it. Or do [any] stupid mistake because we need to score points, that’s how the team will go quicker by the time, by having the money as well.”
And while Sergio Pérez took an opportunistic podium in Azerbaijan – the team had just 28 points from the first seven events - leaving it sixth in the standings behind McLaren and Renault.
Rumours also swirled mid-season that the team was financially on the rocks, with upgrades held back from production at the Silverstone factory.
But Force India’s fighting spirit burned bright in the background, before it was thrown into administration and the new owners installed.
SOUNDBITE (English) SERGIO PÉREZ,
F1 DRIVER, FORCE INDIA:
“I’ve always said this team is ready to win a race, or to fight for big things. We just need a competitive car. But the level of engineering, the level of individuals that we have in this team is huge.”
For 2019, Pérez remains for a sixth season, ensuring some consistency – but is paired with team owner Lawrence Stroll’s son Lance, who scored just six points this year at Williams.
The Canadian had a better debut season in 2017, with 40 points to Felipe Massa’s 43. And while he was outqualified 17-2, Stroll had a front row start at Monza and a podium on the streets of Baku.
SOUNDBITE (English) LANCE STROLL,
"Yes it was a great weekend for us, it was a great day. Coming into it, I don't think we expected a podium, but it was a crazy race, so much happened - and you know we just had a clean day and took home a solid third place.”
But, it’s a controversial move, with fans up in arms about pay driver Stroll replacing talented gun Esteban Ocon…who will now stay on the sidelines for 2019 as Mercedes reserve driver.
“Potentially, my father buying this team can make it a much better team, much more competitive. It’s not, in my eyes, a big negative,” Stroll said earlier this year.
Regardless, it will move forward with a new name, Racing Point a temporary change. And with its debts paid, should aim at forging closer links with Mercedes to become the squad’s unofficial B-team.
This is a racing outfit that has always punched above its weight, dating all the way back to its roots as Jordan from 1991.
And with the squad now financially stable, a bright future awaits.