Force India sets 'stretch objective' of third
9 December 2016 – Force India is capable of challenging for third position in the Formula 1 standings in 2017, off the back of its most successful season, according to Otmar Szafnauer, the team's Chief Operating Officer.
Force India endured a challenging start to the 2016 campaign, scoring just 14 points over the first five rounds, but it turned around its fortunes with the introduction of a sizeable upgrade package.
It achieved a pair of podiums with Sergio Pérez, in Monaco and Azerbaijan, and recorded 12 double points finishes from 16 races, enough to beat Williams to a best-ever classification of fourth.
"I think if we finish fourth again next year it will be a big accolade for this team, but why not have a stretch objective of third?" Szafnauer told GPUpdate.net, on Force India's goals.
"I don't think it's so farfetched that it's unachievable, and you shouldn't have unachievable objectives, because everyone gives up early – I think it's an achievable stretch objective.
"But if we don't get there [to third overall], we shouldn't be disappointed.
"Even repeating what we've done this year, in a year where the regulations change, and that favours the teams with much greater resources than ours, would be a good thing.
"Hopefully we'll start 2017 like we left off here and be competitive."
Pérez, who became the first Force India driver to surpass 100 points in a season in 2016, sees next year's regulation overhaul as a golden opportunity for the team to push on.
"I think next year is our big opportunity to keep overachieving," said Pérez.
"I think to move forward, with the rules changing, is our biggest opportunity, to try to get in that top three at the end of the year – every year we have been moving up [the standings].
"I see good potential, good people, and I think the budget is quite good for next year, in terms of what we can do with upgrades, [even though] we are not in the position of the big teams.
"I think if we get it right next year we can definitely be in the top three fight."