Sahara Force India: 100 GP and the magic formula

This weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix will mark Force India’s 100th race. The team, which evolved from the Jordan GP team, made its debut in 2008. Now in their sixth season, the team currently lie fifth in the Constructors’ Championship. Team driver Paul di Resta is inside the top ten in the Drivers’ Championship, while Adrian Sutil is just outside it. Here we look at the numbers that make up their ‘magic formula’ – the 100 GP.

Five full seasons

The Force India team made their debut on the Formula One grid in 2008, with the deal being put in place late 2007 when Spyker F1 was sold to Vijay Mallya. The team retained the services of driver Adrian Sutil and he was paired with Italian driver Giancarlo Fisichella who had left Renault. The team used Ferrari engines and Bridgestone tyres. In their debut season the team scored 0 points and finished in tenth place, ahead of only Super Aguri. However, it was only onwards and upwards from there as they scored 13 points in the following year, 68 in 2010, 69 in 2011, and 109 in 2012.

Five drivers

Over the course of six seasons, including 2013, Force India have had five drivers race for them. Sutil and Fisichella were retained for the 2009 season but, when Fisichella was given the chance to drive for Ferrari, Vitantonio Liuzzi was promoted from test driver to race driver from the Italian Grand Prix. Sutil and Liuzzi continued for 2010 but at the end of the season, test driver Paul di Resta was promoted to a race seat for the 2011 season. He partnered Sutil for a year before he was joined by Nico Hulkenberg for 2012. In 2013, the team returned to the 2011 line-up as Sutil made his return after a year long absence from Formula One.

Two engine suppliers

Having used Ferrari engines for their debut season, Force India switched to Mercedes from 2009 and have used their engines since. Their original five year deal, which also saw them sign a technical agreement with McLaren-Mercedes, was recently extended to include 2014, when Formula One will switch to 1.6 litre V6 turbocharged hybrid power units. As part of their deal with McLaren, Force India were supplied with gearboxes, hydraulics systems and KERS.

One pole position

It was Giancarlo Fischella who delivered the team their first pole position. He took it at the Belgium Grand Prix but was unable to convert it into a win, although finished the race just a second down on Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen who is somewhat of a Spa master. Also worthy of being noted was that Force India were without KERS, a system which Raikkonen had at his disposal – as at that time the system was optional and only a handful of teams used it.

One podium position

On the weekend of their first pole position, the Force India team also took their first podium position. But that’s not all, it was also the team’s first points paying finish in Formula One – what a way to do it! To date it is their only podium but Adrian Sutil, Nico Hulkenberg, and Paul di Resta have all come close with fourth place finishes.

Two fastest laps

Adrian Sutil and Nico Hulkenberg have set fastest race laps while racing for Force India. Sutil’s was at the 2009 Italian Grand Prix, on his way to fourth place, while Hulkenberg set the fastest lap at the 2012 Singapore Grand Prix, where he finished 14th.

61 points finishes

They may not have lots of podiums, but the team have finished in the points with at least one car in 61 races – a conversion rate of 61%. The most points the team has accumulated in one season is 109 (2012) and have a grand total of 323 over six seasons. This includes 2008 and 2009 converted into the current points system (25, 18, 15, 12…) and their total so far in 2013.

13 double points finishes

Of the 61 points finishes, 13 of these were double – meaning that both cars were in the points. The first of these was at the 2010 Monaco GP and has since occurred at the Belgian GP that same year, 2011 Australian,  Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Brazilian GP, 2012 Malaysian, Monaco, European and Belgian GP. In 2013 there have been two instances: in Australia and Monaco. There biggest haul at one race was 13 at the 2012 Belgian GP.

6th place

To date, current season not considered, Force India’s best position in the Constructors’ Championship has been sixth place, where they finished in 2011 with 69 points. They were just four points of Renault’s total for fifth place. There were 17 points finishes for Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta that season – nine for Adrian and eight for di Resta.

Three previous incarnations

Before Force India came into being, Jordan GP, Midland F1 and Spyker F1 were in its place. Jordan had a prolonged period in the sport – from 1991 to 2005 – and in that time won four races and had a third place in the Constructors’ Championship. When the team ran into financial difficulties it was sold to Midland F1 before being sold onto Spyker for 2007. Current Force India driver Adrian Sutil was a test driver for Midland before becoming a Spyker race driver and continuing with Force India.

One from a Billion

In 2011, Force India kicked off a search to find India’s young driving talents. Phase one saw open karting trials in seven cities leading to the national finals in Goa. Phase two saw a successful shortlist of ten drivers flown to Silverstone for a week of hands-on training and evaluation both on and off track. Three finalists – Arjun Maini, Tarun Reddy and Jehan Daruvala – competed in the British Super One Karting Championship.

Off the back of the successful two-year cycle, Force India have set up the Sahara Force India Formula One Team Academy. The academy aims to nurture and develop young drivers from India, preparing them for a drive with Force India. So far there have been two Indian drivers in Formula One – Narain Karthikeyan and Karun Chandhok – so the academy is important as it develops a path for more to follow in their footsteps.

So, there we have it. As Force India celebrate a milestone, remember how 5 drivers + 5full seasons + 2 engine suppliers + 1 pole position + 1 podium + 2 fastest laps + 61 points finishes + 13 double points finishes + 6th place + 3 previous incarnations + 1 from a billion = 100 GP. Of course there are also many other contributing factors, but those above make up the ‘magic formula’. Here’s to the next 100!

PS. Force India driver Adrian Sutil is also approaching his 100th race (Hungarian GP).

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