Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, Interlagos, 2012

One step forward, one step back for Force India

2012 F1 season reviewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, Interlagos, 2012

Force India increased their points haul in 2012 but in such a competitive season it wasn’t enough to keep them from losing a place in the championship.

The team ended the year of steady progress with one of its most competitive showing to date. Nico Hulkenberg led the Brazilian Grand Prix for 30 laps before a clash with Lewis Hamilton left him fifth.

It wasn’t the only time Force India led a race in 2012 – Paul di Resta cycled to the front during the pit stop sequence in Bahrain. This was one of his best performances of the year and it came on a difficult weekend for the team as they missed a practice session after being caught up in a petrol bomb attack in the strife-hit country.

Force India team stats 2012

Best race result (number) 4 (2)
Best grid position (number) 4 (1)
Non-finishes (mechanical/other) 3 (2/1)
Laps completed (% of total) 2,211 (92.74%)
Laps led (% of total) 30 (2.52%)
Championship position (2011) 7 (6)
Championship points (2011) 109 (69)
Pit stop performance ranking 6

A superb performance from Di Resta gave the team a morale-boosting sixth place, impressively holding off Fernando Alonso in the closing stages.

Di Resta held the upper hand early in the season as Hulkenberg dusted off the cobwebs having spent 2011 as a test driver. But the pendulum swung over the course of the season and Brazil was the culmination of several great drives by Hulkenberg.

Team owner Vijay Mallya was keen to retain both drivers, but Hulkenberg has been lured to Sauber for 2013. Nonetheless Mallya heaped praise on his outgoing driver, even before his Brazilian Grand Prix heroics: “Nico has been one of the stars this season. He?s delivered exactly what we expected of him and brought a lot to this team. He has a big future in Formula One and we wish him well.”

In a season when the margins between success and failure in the middle of the pack were even narrower than usual, Force India began the year at the tail end of the midfield. They admitted the VJM05 was a significant departure from the previous design but made progress with it.

While the form of teams like Sauber varied considerably from track to track, Force India were on a steady upward trajectory throughout the season. The teams’ mid-season progress began after a package of upgrades introduced at the Spanish Grand Prix. It took them time to exploit the development to its full potential but once they did the orange and green cars made more regular forays into the points.

Paul di Resta, Force India, Bahrain, 2012From being in the lower reaches of Q2 at the start of the season they appeared in Q3 more frequently in the second half of the year. Unfortunately for Di Resta, a superb fourth on the grid in Italy was lost due to a gearbox change penalty.

The team’s late-season form was all the more impressive given that they’d already switched focus to their 2013 chassis. “We?ve been on the new car for several months now,” said technical director Andrew Green. “There?s been no development on this car since the [August] shutdown, effectively.” That will give the team cause for optimism heading into next season.

But there are concerns, and not least who will be found to replace the driver who claimed the lion’s share of their points this year.

During the season doubts were raised over the teams’ long-term future as reports emerged of problems elsewhere in Mallya’s business empire. He dismissed the questions and sought to deflect attention from it by pointing out his planned investment in the team for next year.

“We have every reason to feel proud,” concluded Mallya. “We?ve scored more points than in any previous season and every year we?ve demonstrated that we?ve gone up the ladder.” But that progress is not going to be easy to sustain.

Force India drivers’ 2012 race results

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/2012drivercolours.csv

AUS MAL CHI BAH SPA MON CAN EUR BRI GER HUN BEL ITA SIN JAP KOR IND ABU UNI BRA
Paul di Resta 10 7 12 6 14 7 11 7 11 12 10 8 4 12 12 12 9 15 19
Nico Hulkenberg 9 15 12 10 8 12 5 12 9 11 4 21 14 7 6 8 8 5

Force India drivers’ 2012 laps per position

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/2012drivercolours.csv

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
Paul di Resta 1 3 9 41 42 47 63 65 108 96 185 181 116 93 42 16 4 1 5 3 6 0 9 0
Nico Hulkenberg 30 26 15 25 67 42 84 105 134 124 98 62 58 74 39 41 22 9 12 4 1 1 0 2

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Images ?? Sahara Force India F1 Team