F1 2015 Preview: Force India

2014 Statistics

Constructors Championship: 6th
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Pole positions: 0
Points finishes: 26

2014 saw Force India enter the season with a new(ish) line-up. After a year away at Sauber, Nico Hulkenberg returned and was partnered by Sergio Perez who was axed by McLaren after just one year. The pairing helped Force India go head-to-head with McLaren for fifth in the championship and they stayed ahead until the latter stages of the season. The team have chosen to go with continuity into 2015, keeping the same driver line-up.

The team’s best race finish in 2014 was Perez’s third place in Bahrain. The Mexican battled for the lead in Canada as Nico Rosberg fought with a brake problem, but a last lap collision with Williams’ Felipe Massa put him out of the running. Hulkenberg’s best finish was fifth, a result which he achieved four times. It was his consistent finishing in the points which gave him the championship edge over his team-mate.

Force India pose a huge question mark for the 2015 season. Amid rumours of money issues the team sat out the first pre-season test in Jerez. They then appeared in Barcelona but running the 2014 car. It wasn’t until the third and final test that the VJM08 finally broke cover and on the second day. So after three days of running it is not clear to see where Force India will feature in the order. One thing that can be said, however, is that the car is reliable. Over three days of running the team completed 345 laps – two days for Hulkenberg and one for Perez.

Hulkenberg is considered by many as a underrated talent and he is still looking for the elusive first podium. His consistency in races sees him pick up a number of points giving him solid positions in the championships. The transition from 2014 to 2015 is also the first time in his F1 career that Hulkenberg has remained at the same team for two years in a row. He has been at Force India before but he also had a year at Sauber in between his two stints with the team.

Team-mate Perez has proven his speed in Formula One, and he has scored four podiums in his career so far. At times his aggressive driving style has caused incidents but at the same time it is also the reason he got on the podium so early in his F1 career. If he can work on becoming more consistent – like team-mate Hulkenberg – but find a way to balance his natural aggression he could feature well in the championship.

One of Force India’s advantage in 2014 was the Mercedes engine – clearly the dominant force last season. However, Renault and Ferrari have had time to try and catch up so the team will not be able to rely on that to give them an edge. The delay to its testing programme will leave the team playing catch-up in the opening stages of the championship, however, in the past the Australian Grand Prix has proven to be one of high attrition so it could be an opportunity for them to sneak into the points with their reliable car.

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