Force India Finish 4th after Season-long scrap with Williams

In the opening four races of the season, it looked like it would be a difficult 2016 for Force India. Their car didn’t seem to possess its usual characteristics of being fast on the straights and clever with its tyre preservation. But since the massive upgrade at the Spanish Grand Prix, the team haven’t looked back and defied their own budget to finish the season 4th in the Constructors.

Their achievement this season is remarkable. To beat Williams, who have finished the last two season’s in 3rd is the biggest scalp the team have ever claimed. Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez are both well established, excellent Formula One drivers but the VJM09 has been a revelation this season. The team usually produce cars with the trademark strengths of a high top-speed and a kindness on the tyres, but this season the Silverstone-based squad have created an all-rounder. Twisty street circuits suddenly weren’t a problem, performance in low-speed corners was strong and the car finished in the points continually as a result of two calculated drivers.

After securing 4th by 35-points over Williams, deputy team principal Robert Fernley was delighted and said,

“To end the season with two cars solidly inside the points and with fourth place in the constructors’ championship feels fantastic. It has been a tremendous year for us and it’s important to pay tribute to each and every member of the team for all their hard work and hours of dedication back at base and at the track. All the effort has paid off and we can now celebrate the best ever year in our history.

Both drivers did a super job today, as they have done all year long. It’s great that Nico could end his time with us on a high note and we thank him for everything he has done for us during his five years as a Force India driver. He’s been a big part of our journey up the grid and it has been a pleasure working with him. Credit to Sergio, as well, who becomes the first Force India driver to cross the 100 points in a season milestone. He’s been exceptional this year and fully deserves to finish seventh in the drivers’ championship.”

– Robert Fernley

Second placed Scuderia Ferrari's German driver Sebastian Vettel (L) and third placed Sahara Force India F1 Team's Mexican driver Sergio Perez celebrate on the podium after the European Formula One Grand Prix at the Baku City Circuit on June 19, 2016 in Baku.   / AFP / KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV        (Photo credit should read KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)
Second placed Scuderia Ferrari’s German driver Sebastian Vettel (L) and third placed Sahara Force India F1 Team’s Mexican driver Sergio Perez celebrate on the podium after the European Formula One Grand Prix at the Baku City Circuit on June 19, 2016 in Baku.
/ AFP / KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV (Photo credit should read KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s difficult to see them going one better next season given that Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari are the only teams ahead of them. Their target for 2017 will surely be to retain their position as others such as McLaren and possibly Renault join the fight.

In Esteban Ocon, the team have an unknown quantity. His time at Manor has been fairly indistinguishable from Pascal Wehrlein’s efforts, but teams have in-depth access to data and Force India like what they see. The young French driver has someone to learn from in Sergio Perez though. Securing 7th in the driver standings has capped off the Mexican’s best year in Formula One to date. The continuation of his form will be vital to Force India continuing this incredible climb up the standings.