Who would have thought that Force India would sit in a comfortable 4th place at the end of the 2016 season? But the maths all adds up when you look at the elements. They had the best engine on the grid in the shape of the Mercedes PU106C. They had two very good drivers with Hulkenberg and Perez. The aero-package on the car worked well, nothing amazing, but nothing ordinary either. The team always appear to have great spirit and a very positive attitude.
Their reliability was pretty impressive too, they only had 6 retirements all season, which allowed them to finish in the points 30 times.
How could they not come fourth?
So what do we expect for this season? Well there’s almost no news coming out from the Force India factory. But they still have the Mercedes power unit, they still have Perez and we assume they still have that very positive team attitude.
The differences are in the people department this year. Vijay’s troubles with the Indian Government continue and not only will he not be going to the races because of his passport issues, but the Indian Government have put in an extradition request.
Perez was surprised that Hulkenberg left to go to Renault, but in Esteban Ocon they have an up-and-coming driver who is ready to be moulded into the Force India way. Ocon spent the off-season piling on the muscle in preparation for the new forces of this year’s car.
That’s it, there’ almost no other noteworthy news to have been issued or written about Force India. No new colour scheme, no new name, no engine change.
When their car is launched on February 22nd, we’re not sure what we’re going to see. We would imagine it would be a fairly conservative interpretation of the new rules, with no huge surprises. Why would you reveal your biggest weapon weeks before the first race? Then come Australia, we think there will be a different front wing with new end plates. It’s such a key part of the car, that development wont stop for the month in between.
At the end of the year, we don’t think you will see the Force India’s sat above the likes of Red Bull, Mercedes or Ferrari. They will cement their position above Williams and the Toro Rosso/Renault/Haas competition will be fought out below them.
But the McLaren battle will be interesting. We know from last year that Force India can contend for podiums and have great reliability, but we think the McLaren package will just outshine them. Look for a tight 4th/5th battle and maybe only finding a winner in Abu Dhabi.
We’re opting for Force India to finish, 1 or 2 points behind McLaren, in 5th.