Mid-season review: Force India stays fourth

Mid-season review: Force India stays fourth

10 August 2017 – GPUpdate.net continues its mid-season review series by reflecting on Force India, which has again exceeded expectations, as Sergio Pérez and Esteban Ocon strive to convert regular points into a podium.

Force India: 8/10
Championship: 4th
WCC points: 101
Best race: 4th (1 x PER)
Best qualifying: 6th (1 x PER)
Fastest laps: 1 (PER)
Qualifying duel: PER 9 – 2 OCO


Force India flourished in 2016 to grab fourth in the standings but with McLaren improving, Renault investing in its comeback and the midfield notoriously challenging, a repeat was surely a pipe dream. Not a chance. Force India has thrived in 2017 with a well-balanced, driveable car, aided by a strong engine, and raced by two quick drivers. Pre-season was a struggle for Force India, with the VJM10 overweight, but it stayed out of trouble early on to take points. Once the initial issues were addressed, its points came increasingly on merit, and it has taken 19 top 10 finishes from 22 starts. However, there have still been some bittersweet moments. Force India could have captured a podium in Canada with stricter instructions on the pit wall, and the situation festered into Azerbaijan, with contact robbing the team of a potential 1-2, considering how the race unravelled. However, financially, Force India is surely pound-for-pound the pace-setter, and an example in efficiency. The 100-point mark has been surpassed, and fourth is in the bag once more. Under the current climate, it cannot realistically place higher. 

Sergio Pérez: 8/10
Championship: 7th
WDC points: 56
Best R result: 4th (1x)
Best Q result: 4th (1x)


Sergio Pérez has blossomed into the ideal midfield racer, though the dynamic within the team changed after his three-year partnership with Nico Hülkenberg was broken up following the German's move to Renault. In his place came Esteban Ocon, and while Pérez has led the charge, there has undoubtedly been some hierarchal assertion – most notably in Canada and with some barbed comments pre-Austria. Pérez has led the one-lap battle but often only by a slender margin, which can largely be attributed to experience. However, more impressive this year has been Pérez's ability to rescue a weekend. In the past Pérez has tended to drift away, but in 2017 he has dug deep to salvage a good result after difficult practice sessions. In Spain, 14th in FP2 became eighth on the grid and fourth in the race; similarly in Austria a lacklustre 18th on Friday was converted into a Q3 spot and seventh on Sunday. A clumsy move on Daniil Kvyat in Monaco ended his points streak, but by and large Pérez is the ideal Force India driver; capable of bagging points, experienced but still hungry for more, and with the assistance of financial backing. But can he retain his team leader position against a rising Ocon?

Esteban Ocon: 8/10
Championship: 8th
WDC points: 45
Best R result: 5th (1x)
Best Q result: 7th (1x)


Ocon has regularly been touted as one of the stars of the coming generation, and he has proved his worth with Force India, demonstrating strong pace, consistency – he has finished all 20 of his Formula 1 races – while remaining grounded, a testament to his upbringing. Ocon started steadily – three Q2 eliminations followed by successive 10th places – but as spring turned into summer the Frenchman began to push Pérez. Better team tactics could have led to a podium in Canada, while in being denied a shot at Daniel Ricciardo by Pérez, he felt wronged, and undoubtedly the angst manifested itself in an optimistic move in Azerbaijan. Ocon finally beat Pérez to the chequered flag at Silverstone and how he develops further will provide a fascinating sub-plot. As it stands, a 9-2 deficit in qualifying is eye-catching, but the gaps have been slender. Across Canada, Azerbaijan, Austria and Britain, Ocon's deficit was 0.117s, 0.085s, 0.069s and 0.172s respectively. Ocon still has progress to make, but with every weekend the youngster is understanding more about the nuances of Formula 1. Pérez has so far edged an intriguing battle, but Ocon has a very bright future ahead.

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