Force India getting closer to first points

Giancarlo Fisichella had a strong drive to tenth at Silverstone

Giancarlo Fisichella had a strong drive to tenth at Silverstone

One of the quieter success stories of the first half of the season has been the gradual improvement of Force India.

An effective programme of development has brought real progress, and the team has finally begun to get cars beyond the first segment in qualifying.

They?ve come tantalisingly close to scoring their first points ?ǣ but it hasn?t happened yet. Can they make that breakthrough soon?

There’s been three big signs of their progress so far, but a mixture of luck and mistakes has often served to mask their progress:

Chinese Grand Prix

Adrian Sutil has often shown a knack for driving in the wet, and at Shanghai his skills shone as he pulled the VJM02 up to sixth place having started 18th.

Unfortunately, with six laps to go he lost control of his car at one of the few places on the track where the closeness of the barriers meant he wasn’t going to get away with it.

Read more: Sutil crash costs Force India first point

Monaco Grand Prix

This time it was Giancarlo Fisichella’s turn to shine – although Sutil played a useful role in helping his team mate.

On a day when the longevity of the super-soft tyre was suspect, Sutil ran into trouble with them on lap eight. He allowed Fisichella, on the harder tyres, past, but delayed the chasing pack.

Fisichella, meanwhile, latched onto the rear of another group of cars that had been slowed by a driver struggling with super-soft tyres: Sebastian Vettel. By making a later pit stop Fisichella was able to jump up the order to finish ninth at the chequered flag, less than two seconds behind Sebastien Bourdais.

In truth, the way the race unfolded probably exaggerated the strengths of the VJM02 on that day (they only set the 14th and 16th fastest laps) – but it showed that if events go in their favour they are ready to get that first top-eight finish.

Read more: Super-soft tyres key to Button?s win and Vettel?s disaster (Monaco GP analysis)

British Grand Prix

Friday practice for the British Grand Prix ended with the two Red Bulls at the top of the times sheets – and Adrian Sutil an utterly unexpected third.

Sutil had been running new parts straight from the factory, just a stone’s throw from Silverstone’s gates. The extensive upgrade included a new front wing, barge boards, bodywork and a revised floor.

But on Saturday disaster struck: Sutil’s brakes failed as he tackled the Abbey chicane and he crashed hard into the barriers. His qualifying session was ruined, and Fisichella was a lowly 16th.

Despite that, Fisichella again made progress on Sunday – making a crucial pass on Nick Heidfeld – to finish tenth. Once again, he was two seconds away from a place in the points.

The next step?

Force India are clearly already in the position where they only need a little luck to get that first points finish.

And a points score ‘on merit’ could be on the cards too. At Silverstone Fisichella beat a Williams, both Renaults and both BMWs without any help from fortuitously-timed safety cars, unusual weather conditions or the like – it was down to pure pace.

Also left in Fisichella’s wake were both the McLarens – the team which are providing Force India with gearboxes and other parts this year, as well as sharing an engine supplier. The thought of taking on and beating the mighty McLaren with substantially similar parts must bring tremendous cheer to the Silverstone squad after several uncertain seasons with different owners.

Sutil’s home race is next on the calendar. Can he – or Fisichella – give Force India their long-awaited maiden score next weekend? What other races on the calendar offer them a good opportunity for them?

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28 comments on Force India getting closer to first points

  1. Sush Meerkat said on 2nd July 2009, 8:04

    I certainly hope so, I like the plucky Force India chaps, their run of bad luck will stop soon.

    Fisico seems to have found a resurgence, and Sutil just seems to get all the bad luck at the moment.

  2. Journeyer said on 2nd July 2009, 8:20

    Don’t forget – they almost finished in the points in Australia too! :D

    I like their chances of scoring this year. It’s becoming a question of when rather than if.

  3. DGR-F1 said on 2nd July 2009, 8:25

    Its good to see Force India making its way up the grid, and being able to beat the likes of Williams and Renault on the track. I had thought Toro Rosso would be the ones doing better this year, shadowing Red Bull’s success.
    What do you think has made the difference at Force India? The benifit of experience from the last couple of seasons, the Mercedes engines and other parts from McLaren, or have McLaren sent engineers and pit crew to help too? Or is Big Ron involved somewhere in the background, sharing his knowledge?

  4. Mercedez engines are definitely a big plus. Look at Brawn.

    But good improvement from Force India. Very very good work in the factory and some inspired driving by both Sutil and Fisichella. They will have truly earned their first points now.

  5. Brendan said on 2nd July 2009, 9:39

    Having the Mercedes gearbox is by far their biggest gain from the deal. IIRC, they only debuted their own seamless-shift gearbox midway through last year, and their gearboxes were unreliable all last year.

    Ironically enough, for the last few races, the unthinkable has happened–McLaren is the slowest of the 3 Mercedes-powered teams. The idea was floated after the Jerez test, but it really has happened.

    • Journeyer said on 2nd July 2009, 11:41

      Ironically enough, for the last few races, the unthinkable has happened–McLaren is the slowest of the 3 Mercedes-powered teams. The idea was floated after the Jerez test, but it really has happened.

      That was unthinkable back at the Jerez test. Now that it’s become true, it’s very hard to believe… That said, they’ve done very well to still be in the middle of the table despite all that.

      • ukk said on 2nd July 2009, 13:21

        That said, they’ve done very well to still be in the middle of the table despite all that.

        Yup, the difference between the winning team (one that knows how to fight effectively) and the also-ran’s.

        Toyota and Williams are suffering exactly in this department a lot – reasonable car, but poorly utilised by the team.

    • manatcna said on 2nd July 2009, 22:29

      IIRC ?

  6. Aaron Shearer said on 2nd July 2009, 11:16

    It’s really nice to see them so far up the field. I really hope that they manage to get their first points finish in Germany.

    Although I wouldn’t mind seeing one of them on the podium :-)

  7. ComeBackMontoya said on 2nd July 2009, 12:14

    VJM seems to have taken a very level headed, methodical approach to his F1 team. I think Spyker went into with their eyes closed which must have been hard for everyone in the team. Now however they seem to have some stability, a new partnership with McLaren and realistic targets for moving up the grid. Obviously there is preasure to win points, even races, but VJM appears to know that none of that can come without laying down some solid foundations which take time. I take my hat off to them for what they’ve achieved this season, would be great to see them up there at the front.

    I do love an underdog…. come on Bordais :)

    • mp4-19b said on 2nd July 2009, 16:14

      why do you still use that name or i must say plea, when we all pretty well know that he’s never going to come back. infact i saw one of his interviews to speed,where he said that he would go back to Columbia & graze cattle’s than return to f1. he was a great fighter & a nutter at the same time. f1 doesn’t suite such characters. maybe he should have tried out WWE. he resembles carlito a lot & he’s not bad at abusing either!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFnnwdlerJM

      • ComeBackMontoya said on 2nd July 2009, 16:39

        Montoya was a great driver, not scared of putting moves on people in corners others wouldn’t dream of and personality wise was a welcome departure from the corporate monkeys every team boss wishes for.

        So while I know he aint coming back (like the mp4-19b), I can still ‘plea’!

  8. hollus said on 2nd July 2009, 13:23

    Go Jordan!

  9. Arun.India said on 2nd July 2009, 14:16

    I hope so they get it.They have been trying really hard for their first point.Even though i am not a big force india fan.I like Dr.Mallya.Go Dr.Mallya!!!!:).

  10. mp4-19b said on 2nd July 2009, 16:33

    first of all i don’t like the name FORCE INDIA. i would like to know how is the team linked to india? is the team based in india? are there any indian engineers onboad? is the manufacturing done in india? or has any indian test driven it? no! infact there isn’t even a life scale model of force india’s car on display in any of the major indian cities! just because vijay mallya owns 50% stake & the livery is based on indian flag,which i find very cool :)) we cannot justify it being named after a country, there isn’t much there you can associate with india. i would suggest naming it as KINGFISHER-MERCEDES. That sounds better to me. i have many indian friends, in spite of having a team named after their nation, most of them still support either mclaren or ferrari. either mallya must change the name or shift base from silverstone to bombay :))

    • Robert said on 2nd July 2009, 17:01

      Don’t forget that India will be getting its own race in 2011. I think naming the team like this is trying to get Indian viewers more interested in the sport so when the race comes, there will be more knowledgeable fans there to support the team/F1 in general.

    • Vijay Mallya is their team principle, thats enough reason no?

    • Sush Meerkat said on 2nd July 2009, 18:24

      You dont half argue alot MP4-19b, even with a name.

      What about Red Bull?, do their cars run on the stuff?, are the engineers previous bartenders?.

    • David A said on 2nd July 2009, 23:28

      i would like to know how is the team linked to india?

      After reading this, I didn’t want to read on.

    • Vijay is trying to change Indian people’s loyalties, which is part of the reason the team name is Force India. Incidentally, there is a Force India VJM01 car on tour – it has recently been seen at the Techedin conference and a 50km Sunworld run, both in India (albeit both with fairly targeted audiences rather than mass appeal).

  11. Steve_P said on 2nd July 2009, 16:58

    I think VJ can name his team whatever he wants. His is Indian and the main sponsor (Kingfisher) is Indian. I’ve read before in the past that VJ wants to get an Indian driver into one of the cars, but he doesn’t think Karun Chandhoek is ready for it. Besides, an F1 team based outside of Europe is highly unlikely. We’ll see how well Team USF1 does next season. If Team USF1 is successful, maybe other teams will base their operations outside of Europe.

    I really want to see Force India score soon. They really do deserve it.

  12. Obster said on 2nd July 2009, 21:07

    Yes, they are getting closer every race, it seems. I root for them to get points soon-altho the “plucky” factor seems to have shifted to the Brawn guys for this season.

  13. wasiF1 said on 3rd July 2009, 1:50

    They deserve a point hopefully they earn it rather than get it.

  14. scunnyman said on 3rd July 2009, 21:16

    having read these articles about goodwood and overtaking it has got me wanting to watch some season reviews over the weekend, while not doing the july 4th thing. Only i can’t work out what seasons to watch from 1975 to say 2006.

    can anyone suggest some years for me please?

    • mp4-19b said on 4th July 2009, 9:01

      1991 the best according to me

      • scunnyman said on 4th July 2009, 9:18

        Thanks mp4 good year and the season opener was Phoenix i believe, which is good as that is where i live now.
        And of course I ma a hug Mansell fan and he won British grand Prix that year. I think it’s the year he gave Senna a ride on his Williams.

        So that’s one dvd to watch. will i get anymore recommendations before th end of the weekend?

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