Force India’s Chief Operating Officer Otmar Szafnauer is positive his team could still finish fourth in the championship standings if they will avoid making mistakes in the future races and also limit the damage on those tracks that don’t fit their car.
The two-point advantage going into the Italian Grand Prix weekend wasn’t enough to prevent Force India from slipping back behind Williams in the constructors’ championship after Sunday’s race. Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg scored only 5 points in Monza while their direct rival was able to score twice as many.
“We had a good race in Spa that elevated us to fourth but we were only a couple of points ahead of Williams so it was difficult to maintain the position. They are a very good team and have a good power train like we do and good drivers so it will be tough from now on", Szafnauer told F1Zone.
“We’ve got to make sure we minimize the mistakes that we potentially could make or make none and race hard. Some of the tracks will suit us and I think we’ve got a good chance to finish [the season] ahead of them.”
Szafnauer explained it was a ‘step by step’ battle that led Force India to its actual state, supported by a financial situation that allowed them to keep to the development schedule that was planned for this season.
“We made a plan early on and we stuck to it. There’s always financial problems in Formula 1 independent of what team you are but you just have to make sure that what you plan is what you do and the things you do have planned actually work. So far this year that’s exactly what has happened.
“We had updates planned all along this season and there are many of them and they all come together now. The car is an evolution throughout years.
“There are still a couple of races to go and we will just optimize what we have now. If there are any updates, they will be small changes.”
Points didn’t tell the right story at the beginning of the year
Force India had a difficult opening part to the 2016 campaign having scored only 14 points from the first five races. Overheated front brakes on Sergio Perez’s car in Australia, an unfortunate safety car period in China, an oil leak on Nico Hulkenberg’s car in Spain and some racing incidents in which both drivers were involved in Bahrain and Russia led to this pointless start.
“We didn’t have one clean weekend in the first few races of the season. We did see the true potential of the car [that time], cause you get that in qualifying, but we didn’t see a perfect weekend from our perspective. It was not a great start but after that we’ve started finishing some races and the good upgrade in Barcelona took us on the right track”, said Szafnauer.
The dramatic improvement in Force India’s results came after the upgrade package introduced in Barcelona and the Monaco Grand Prix act as a turning point with both drivers scoring points and Perez securing a podium finish.
“The standings tell a more appropriate story now than it did at the beginning. We’ve always had the pace and capability at the beginning, we’ve just had some bad luck.
“The target for this year was at least fifth. Williams were significantly ahead of us at some point this season and we also got some formidable competition behind us so we had to be careful that we watch behind us as well as in the same time trying to get closer to Williams. And that was difficult to do.”