Force India enjoy best season yet in 2010

2010 F1 season review

Force India carried their 2009 form into 2010 and ended the year seventh in the championship – the best for the team since 2002, when it was Jordan.

But the loss of several high-ranking team members and its dip in form in the second half of the season is a concern.

It meant that Williams were able to slip past them into sixth in the final races.

Force India team stats 2010

Best race result (number) 5th (2)
Best grid position (number) 4th (1)
Non-finishes (mechanical/other) 10 (3/7)
Laps completed (% of total) 1834 (81.22%)
Laps led (% of total) 0 (0%)
Championship position (2009) 7th (9th)
Championship points (2009*) 68 (36)
*using 2010 system

The VJM03 built on the progress made with the 2009 car and was a contender for points straight out of the box. But the team lost several top members of staff in the first half of the season.

Among them was a man who had been with them since their first year as Jordan in 1991 – Ian Phillips.

That setback for the team’s commercial side was joined by a double blow to the technical department. First technical director as James Key left for Sauber, then four months later his successor Mark Smith was also gone, heading for Lotus.

Losing two major technical figures seemed have an inevitable effect on car development. Although F-duct and exhaust-blown diffuser upgrades arrived for the VJM03 (at Turkey and Hungary respectively) the team weren’t always get them to work consistently and Vitantonio Liuzzi in particular struggled with the blown rear wing.

As the season wore on Force India saw less of Renault and Mercedes and more of Sauber and Williams in the races.

The gap between Liuzzi and Adrian Sutil was worryingly large at times. Liuzzi was usually out-qualified by his team mate and the gap was often in the region of half to a full second. His excuses about traffic on qualifying laps started to wear thin.

But Liuzzi’s best qualifying performance, sixth at Canada, was spoiled after a collision with Felipe Massa at the first corner.

Sutil generally looked much more steady and less incident-prone than he had been in recent years. He was a thorn in Michael Schumacher’s side on several occasions and kept up with his better-equipped rival in the championship until the later stages of the season.

He suffered a few misfortunes along the way, rather too many of which involved Robert Kubica.

They collided at the start of the first race, then at Canada Kubica punctured Sutil’s tyre while dodging around his car on the way to the pits. At Hungary Renault waved Kubica out of his pit box too soon and straight into the side of – who else? – Sutil.

Operational trouble hit Sutil at Hockenheim where the team managed to fit one of Liuzzi’s tyres to Sutil’s when the pair pitted on the same lap. Oddly, they made the same mistake in practice during the following race on Paul di Resta’s car.

The British driver dovetailed occasional appearances in Friday practice with a successful DTM campaign (he won the German touring car title). He also drove for them in the post-season Pirelli test and there has been speculation all year long that he will get a race seat in 2011.

But Force India’s dip in form at the end of the season make it clear they need to do more than just tinker with their driver line-up if they are to enjoy anything like as successful a season as this again next year.

Force India’s season in pictures

2010 F1 season review

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21 comments on Force India enjoy best season yet in 2010

  1. SoerenKaae (@soerenkaae) said on 4th December 2010, 20:06

    Wasnt it in Hungary that Kubica and Sutil crashed in the pits?

    • Yep I think it was.

    • Electrolite said on 5th December 2010, 12:00

      I think there was situation in Canada where Sutil was going into the final chicane and Kubica cut in front of him to go into the pits though. I didn’t know they actually touched and it caused a puncture, but that definitely happened.

  2. So what is their situation about top engineers?

  3. sato113 (@sato113) said on 4th December 2010, 20:42

    at Hockenheim where the team managed to fit one of Liuzzi’s tyres to Sutil’s team mate

    so they fitted Liuzzi’s tyres to… Liuzzi’s car (Sutil’s team mate). what’s wrong with that?

  4. Icthyes said on 4th December 2010, 22:26

    Funny to see that it was actually a good year for them because I had the impression that this campaign wasn’t a patch on last year’s. Sure, they only beat Toro Rosso, but the pole and second at Spa and a strong showing at Monza (where even Liuzzi was doing well before he retired) were far more memorable achievements for me than simply having enough points to finish 7th. I’d rather that as a team than playing with the big boys at the start, only to fall further down the order as the year went by.

    • Dan Newton said on 4th December 2010, 23:22

      I have a feeling that Force India claimed the gains which they made last year were ‘lost’ this year due to the introduction of the F-duct (to all teams who chose to use it). Which, if true, would go somewhere towards their lack of anything impressive this year. But the exit of so many important staff is something which needs to be sorted. Maybe they’ll get there hands on Mclarens’ KERS somehow (as they already have some kind of agreement with them) which could be a boost. Can’t remember if they ran KERS last year, don’t think so.

    • George said on 4th December 2010, 23:27

      I had exactly the same impression Icth, perhaps because we were expecting so much more from them this year as well.

    • Andy W said on 5th December 2010, 0:17

      Yeah I got that vibe as well. That said Spa last season came out of nowhere, FI did improve last season but that pole and 2nd were…

      I thought they got off to a good season but did really struggle. It just goes to show what loosing key people can do, I wonder if they could have been scrapping with Renault and Mercedes but for that…

      Sutil has impressed me since his debut, he has been close but no cigar so many times (often because of Kimi crashing into him) I would love to see FI give him a car that will let him compete closer to the sharp end and for points every race.

      Liuzzi… dunno don’t want to be to hard on the guy, but he seems to be a modern day Herbert about him in the way he attracts bad luck. I can’t help but feel his time in F1 is over, Paul seems to be on fire at the moment and I can see the team going for him, maybe with Karun in a testing role.

    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 5th December 2010, 8:37

      I think this was a good year for them. 2009 seemed like they were just strong on a couple of low downforce tracks, and they were just being looked at as end season flukes. This year they were on the ball from race 1, and were mixing it up with the top 8 drivers for most of the season. Sure.. they didn’t have a pole position like they did last year.. but they were well equipped for all kinds of circuits. Its a shame that James Key and Mark Smith had to leave them for rivals in the middle of the season, or I’m sure that they would take 6th in the constructors with ease.

    • dyslexicbunny said on 5th December 2010, 18:18

      Agreed. FI went from being impressive at last season’s end to mediocre at the end of this one. Losing those guys to Sauber and Lotus really is going to set them back this offseason and I think it’ll show next season.

  5. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 5th December 2010, 1:37

    Just as the team looks to get set many of their key members left the team that is a shame,this team have progressed well in the last three years,not that distant away that we will see them on the podium if only they can carry the momentum.

  6. i feel they could have had a better season, the f-duct ruined their competitive edge by making every car faster in the straight-line. Losing engineers to lotus & sauber must have hurt them big time as Keith pointed out.. that is the reason they lost out to Williams in the last race. But the blame would also go to Tonio who could not get the car working for him… he was miles off Sutil’s pace on Saturday, which made it hard for him to finish in top 10 on Sunday. His car problems were related to f-duct, but till Turkey the car did not run f-duct they did not run f-duct in monza too… even there he was very slow. Btw Sutil also holds the record of highest overtaking moves this season, 40 to be precise.

    For 2011 i guess they need to get their technical department sorted out. on the drivers side they will need retain Sutil & give the other seat to Paul di Resta.

  7. Rahim.RG said on 5th December 2010, 5:14

    Maybe Mallya Pays less to their Engineers. Due to which all engineers are leaving one by one….The Downfall is clearly due to loss of James Key, Mark Smith and Mike Gascoyne…

  8. Hoshif said on 5th December 2010, 6:32

    I think the one departee which hit FI the most is that of James Key…just look at the improvement in Sauber towards the last part of the season and the corresponding dip at FI.

    i dont this di resta has impressed me that much during the practice sessions..he has more or less shown times comparative to Liuzzi..

    As Hulkenberg is still available in the market..i think FI should snatch him us as soon as possible..he will be a far better choice than Di Resta…also he comes in with some vital inputs from Williams..who pipped FI to the sixth place..inflicting serious financial damage.

  9. This year Force India had their basic level higher than last year, but last year they had the high peaks with pole, front row start, 2nd place, 4th place and fastest lap within two races.

    So it’s a bit difficult to compare the years but Sutil had some good performances especially at Sepang and Spa. Liuzzi meanwhile had some terrible ones like in Shanghai and some late season races. Sutil had low point in Korea but otherwise he was good, I ranked him 10th in my books of the best drivers this year.

  10. MahavirS said on 5th December 2010, 10:57

    Force India did have a good season. I felt they were let down by various qualifying performances which left them too far back to score serious points. One reason for this is the obvious improvements teams like Sauber and Williams made over the season but the other is that at many times only 1 driver made it anywhere near q3. Liuzzi and his famous ‘traffic-on-my-fast-lap’ excuse has left me frustrated on many qualifying days.

  11. Faraz said on 5th December 2010, 12:51

    I think that James Key was key (no pun intended) in helping Force India becoming a force (no pun intended.

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