Welcome to Race Chaser Online’s 2017 Formula One preview series. Today, we look at a team that has been part of the storm of driver changes since the end of the season.
Sahara Force India F1 Team
No. 11 – Sergio Pérez
No. 55 – Esteban Ocon
2016 Team Points Finish: 4th (173 pts.)
2016 Highest Race Finish: Third in Monaco and Europe (Sergio Pérez)
SILVERSTONE, Northamptonshire, United Kingdom — It would be easy to say Force India’s fourth-place finish last season in the points is surprising, but in fact, it is not.
The team has been on a steady growth curve since the 2009 rules came into play during its second season under the Force India name. Two strong drivers in Sergio Pérez and Nico Hülkenberg have helped to improve the team’s already-high standing, and having Mercedes customer engines does not hurt.
There is something of a family atmosphere to the team, a lasting reminder of the Jordan team from whence Force India, neé Spyker, sprung from. However, as in all families, members going their own way has happened to the Silverstone-based team.
With Hülkenberg moving to Renault for 2017, Pérez will now be joined by Mercedes development driver Esteban Ocon, winner of the 2015 GP3 Series while also serving as Force India’s test driver.
Pérez, like his late countryman Pedro Rodriguez, is always fast, but most importantly, consistent, having finished in the points 16 times last season. Two third places, both on street circuits, show that he is a contender and is willing to drive within his means.
Ocon is still a relative newcomer, as eight races in the Manor last year showed he has sense of talent, but those races should be looked at as more of a learning experience than anything. His success in the junior formulae should not be discounted though, and his test-driving duties have allowed him to see most, if not all of the circuits.
Despite suffering small technical issues on the first two days of the first test, the team had two solid runs on the final two days. The second set of four days saw four solid triple-digit-lap runs, and the team said it was confident heading into Melbourne.
Force India did 785 laps over the eight days for 2,270 miles, and were fifth-most among the teams in laps completed.
Perez was 10th after the eight days of testing, having set a 1:20.116 and landing just 1.482 seconds off of Kimi Raikkonen’s 1:18.634. Ocon was 11th with a 1:20.161, 1.527 off of Raikkonen, but just 0.045 off of Pérez.
Overall, the team looks to be on solid footing for the 2017 season, and having debuted a new pink color scheme, Force India will be one of the most vibrant cars on the grid.
Pérez should be a contender this season for regular podiums and possibly wins, while Ocon will simply be hoping to score points on a regular basis.
For more information about the Sahara Force India F1 Team, visit http://www.forceindiaf1.com/.
For more information about the Formula One World Championship, visit https://www.formula1.com/.
About the Writer
Jack Cobourn is the international motorsports correspondent at Race Chaser Online, and covers the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, Rally Cars, Formula One and the FIA World Rally Championship.
Cobourn has been an avid follower of motorsports for years, having not missed a Formula One race in 16 seasons. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware, with a degree in history and a minor in journalism.
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