Force India: Fourth would be tremendous

By on Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Sahara Force India

Sahara Force India

Force India chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer admits that finishing fourth in the 2014 Formula 1 constructors’ championship would be a 'tremendous' result for the Silverstone-based squad.

The outfit is behind only 'factory teams' Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari in the standings after the Canadian Grand Prix, having racked up 77 points across the first seven races of the season.

Force India's previous best result in the constructors' championship was sixth, which they achieved in 2011 and 2013.

"Formula 1 is a difficult game as you got to continue to develop all season," Szafnauer told F1Zone.net.

"We’re doing the same as everyone else and it’s going to be a developing race towards the end. It will be very tight in the middle, I think between us, McLaren, Williams, even Lotus as their competitiveness has increased.

"It will be very difficult but we’ll to do the best we can and maintain where we are. So if we can finish [the season] in fourth that would be tremendous for a team like ours."

Force India sacrificed the second half of their 2013 season in order to focus on this year's car; a decision which translated in having a strong start to this season. The team has now scored the same amount of points so far in 2014 that they amassed in the entire of 2013.

Sahara Force India

Sahara Force India

Force India also returned to the podium for the first time in five years when Sergio Perez claimed third place in Bahrain - a feat he almost repeated last weekend in Canada. Szafnauer explains why Force India has propelled itself further up the grid this year.

"One, we’ve got good drivers, not that we didn’t last year, but we still have good drivers this year," he said of Perez and Nico Hulkenberg.

"Two, the regulations changed significantly and I think we started a little bit early on designing and developing this year car and that helped. And three, Mercedes did a great job on the power track. Those three factors really are what got us to the point where we are.

"The changes were the biggest I’ve ever experienced in Formula 1 so the expectation was that was going to be difficult. But as it turned out, it was very difficult at the beginning when we first ran the cars, I mean there were days [in testing] when people didn’t run but a few laps, but then we quickly got to that learning curve and within a couple of tests we were running up the speed.

"I think we’ve got through the learning curve quicker than I thought we would. It was bad at the beginning but it didn’t last for very long."

Not that Szafnauer believes that more testing time is required in the sport.

Sahara Force India

Sahara Force India

"[It] would have made a difference maybe but by the time we got to the first race everything was aired out so you really don’t need in season testing. It’s another high cost that you really don’t need."

Aside from Perez's non-start in Malaysia, Force India has traditionally moved up the grid from their qualifying positions and Szafnauer believes that the VJM07 is a better race package than a one-lap machine.

"I think our race car might be a little bit better than [when] we qualify," he said.

"[It's] not particularly that we struggle in qualifying but if there is a trade-off to be made between qualifying and racing, we always tend to give ourselves a better race car than a qualifying car because that’s what matters. So we tend to set the car up for the race more than maybe some of the others."

Szafnauer now believes that Force India must maintain their position as the development race heats up across the remaining 12 races of the year.

"The car [has] changed a little bit from the beginning of the season," he said.

"We have some new components and some new systems on the car that we didn’t have in Australia and it should change, not significantly every race, but we should bring new components regularly to the car.

"The difficulty is, because everyone else develops too, it’s hard to tell, because we always compare ourselves with the other teams. There is still more to come. It’s not anywhere near where we've got to be. If we look at how fast Mercedes are, we know there is more potential."


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