Tag Archives: Force India

Ocon: Tough Task replacing Hulkenberg

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With Esteban Ocon replacing Nico Hulkenberg at Force India, the Frenchman has recently admitted in an interview with the media that he has big shoes to fill going into the 2017 season.

Despite only having half a season in Formula 1 under his belt, the 20-year-old expressed his excitement of working with Sergio Perez at the Silverstone-based outfit.

In his interview with the media earlier this week, Ocon is truly grateful to Force India for having confidence in him despite in his inexperience in the sport. Ocon stated the following:-

‘They [Force India] believe in me, they think we can achieve great things together, and they want a strong driver to replace Nico, which is a tough task, but I will do my best to replace him the best way possible.

‘Coming with not a lot of experience halfway through the season was very hard. Probably my progress was a good point, and I also tested with Force India back in 2015, and the test was great.

‘I remember being P2, just behind the Mercedes, and it was a hard day – raining, drying, so I remember a great test, great memories, and the team welcomed me well back then.’

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Force India request financial advance

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It has been announced this afternoon by Autosport that Force India has made a request to Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone for an advance on its championship payments for next year.

The Silverstone-based team made a similar request around this time last year, along with Manor and Sauber and it was accepted.

But for the team to get this advance, it will require unanimous consent from the other teams before Ecclestone can facilitate the advance.

Currently all of the teams on the grid receive payments from Formula One Management on a monthly basis based on their historic status and constructors’ championship position from the previous season.

These are paid from February through to November, potentially leaving a cash shortfall for December and January when key production takes place.

With the regulations being overhauled for next season, requiring teams to build completely new cars, pressure on finances is higher this winter.

It is believed Force India’s request has nothing to do with budget, which is understood to be in place for next season, but rather to ease cashflow during the next couple of months.

The Force India team is set to finish fourth in the constructors’ championship for the first time in its Force India era this year, one place better than last year, as it holds a 27-point lead over Williams with just 43 points available. But based on the last set of team payments, Force India’s one-place improvement will bank it around an extra $3million a year.

Ocon signs for Force India for the 2017 season

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Yesterday afternoon the Sahara Force India is pleased to confirm Esteban Ocon as a race driver for 2017 and beyond following the signing of a multi-year contract. The 20-year-old Frenchman will race alongside Sergio Perez to form one of the most exciting line-ups on the grid with a blend of youth and experience.

In a statement to the media yesterday, Ocon is delighted to have signed for Force India next season and is ready for the opportunity to enhance his career in the sport. Ocon stated the following:-

‘I’m very excited to join Sahara Force India. I know the team quite well already because I was a test driver last year and I’m really looking forward to working with everybody at Silverstone once again. I’m still relatively new to Formula One, but spending half a season at Manor Racing has given me some valuable experience and I feel ready for this new opportunity with Sahara Force India. The next few months will be very busy as I do all I can to prepare for the challenge ahead of me.

‘It means lots of days at the factory, working on the simulator and building relationships with the engineers and everybody in the team. It’s something I’ve been working towards my whole life and I intend to grab this opportunity with both hands so that I can deliver the results the team expects from me. I want to say ‘thank you’ to everybody at Manor and especially to Mercedes-Benz for their support and belief in me. I can’t wait for 2017 and my first full season racing in Formula One.’

In his own statement to the media yesterday; Vijay Mallya, Team Principal and Managing Director stated the following about signing Ocon for next season as follows:-

‘It’s a pleasure to welcome Esteban as our new race driver. He’s an exceptional talent, as his status as a Mercedes Junior demonstrates, and I have no doubt he will flourish inside our team. We’ve had our eye on Esteban for a number of years and have followed his progress through the junior categories where he delivered outstanding results. We ran him in the car last year during testing and his performance convinced us that he is more than capable of racing alongside Sergio. Sahara Force India has a tradition of investing in young, talented drivers and the arrival of Esteban will bring some fresh energy and motivation to everyone in the team.’

Hulkenberg switches to Renault for the 2017 season

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It was announced this morning that Nico Hulkenberg will be more than likely switching to Renault next year after Force India confirmed he will leave its team at the end of the current season.

The news of the switch first surfaced at the Japanese Grand Prix weekend and is now being reported in detail by German newspaper Bild. After several articles linking Hulkenberg to Renault this week, Force India issued a statement confirming the German is set to leave its team after the final round of the season in Abu Dhabi as follows:-

“Everybody at Sahara Force India wishes Nico well as he embarks upon a different path in Formula One. Having spent five years with us, Nico has become a great friend and contributed a huge amount to the team’s success.

‘He’s an outstanding driver, who has scored more points for this team than anybody else. While it’s true we will miss Nico, we respect his decision to explore fresh opportunities and it would be wrong to stand in his way.’

As we already know Renault is working on a five-year plan to return to the front of the grid and has said previously it is looking for a Michael-Schumacher style to rally its troops. The news follows months of speculation that Hulkenberg’s current teammate Sergio Perez would make the switch, but that ended two weeks ago when the Mexican finally confirmed he would remain at Force India.

Hulkenberg hinted at the Renault deal in a tweet today, where he screengrabbed the Bild article but only to make reference to the football fixtures further down the page.

Force India confirm Hulkenberg and Perez for the 2017 season

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It was announced by Force India owner Vijay Mallya on Friday that the team have confirmed Sergio Perez will remain at the team alongside Nico Hulkenberg next year, although the Mexican says he is still considering his options.

Perez and Hulkenberg were paired together by Force India in 2014 and have helped the team’s resurgence in the V6 turbo era, which included a best-ever fifth place in the constructors’ championship last year. Perez has scored four podiums in two years, including two this year in Monaco and Baku.

Perez’s impressive performances this season saw him linked with a switch to Ferrari, although Kimi Raikkonen was confirmed for another season at Maranello on Friday morning ahead of the British Grand Prix. In the hours after that news had been announced Mallya confirmed his own team would remain unchanged for another season as follows:-

‘We are very happy with Nico and Checo. Both are signed for 2017 and really I haven’t thought about it beyond that.

‘We are very early, much earlier than normal, because usually we wait until the winter before announcing our drivers. This time we signed both for 2017 well in advance and of course today’s announcement from Ferrari put to rest a lot of speculation that has been taking place in the last few weeks.’

However, when Perez was asked to confirm the news on Friday, he said he was still keeping his options open until after the summer break. Perez said the following:-

‘First of all, let’s see. I haven’t made up my decision on where my future will be. I want to take some time off and reflect on things over the summer break. Right now it is so intense that I don’t want to waste any energy, I want to give it all to my team because we are in a very important part of the calendar with three races in the next four weeks.

‘That’s the main target for me, to give it my all, and come away from these three races with a lot of points. Then I will sit down with my people and see what is the best for my future.’

When asked further on Friday whether Mallya had reported the news incorrectly, Perez added the following:-

‘I’m not saying that, I’m just saying I will make up my decision on what I will do for the future. I’m not saying that what Vijay said is wrong. But I haven’t made any decision on my future yet.’

Nikita Mazepin to drive for Force India at Silverstone test

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It was announced this morning by the Force India team that its development driver, Nikita Mazepin, will drive the VJM09 at the test session following the British Grand Prix in Silverstone. The 17-year-old Russian will drive both days of the test, which will take place on the 12th and 13th of July.

Mazepin, who was announced in his development role with the team in February, is currently competing in the FIA European Formula 3 Championship with Hi-Tech Racing. He has already attended several Formula One events with the team this season and has begun an extensive simulator programme at the team’s Silverstone HQ.

In a statement to the media this morning, Mazepin is extremely delighted to have the opportunity to test for the team at the in-season test, understands the importance and wants to do the best job possible. Mazepin stated the following:-

‘I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to test the VJM09 at Silverstone. There’s no doubt it will be the biggest moment of my career and it’s something I’ve been working towards my whole life. It’s been a few months since I joined the team and I feel ready for this opportunity. I know it’s an important test for the team and they will be counting on me to do a good job, so I will work hard to make sure we achieve our objectives.’

In a separate statement to the media, Force India Team Prinicpal Vijay Mallya is happy to have selected Mazepin for the opportunity and feels that this decision is best for the team and Nikita especially. Mallya added the following:-

‘In just a few months since his announcement as a development driver, Nikita has shown a great level of technical understanding to go with his driving skills. His progress in our simulator has been excellent and to be in the car during this test is the next step in his natural progression within the team. We are looking forward to working with him in Silverstone.’

2016 Russian Grand Prix Race Review

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On Saturday, we saw Nico Rosberg taking Pole Position for the Russian Grand Prix ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Valtteri Bottas.

After qualifying, it was announced that Lewis Hamilton will be taking a five place grid penalty due to MGU-UK problems that affected his qualifying. For more information about this, please read my article here:- https://jonesonf1.wordpress.com/2016/05/01/hamilton-goes-back-to-melbourne-spec-engine-for-the-russian-gp/.

The start of the Russian GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

The start of the Russian GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

The Russian GP is underway! Nico Rosberg gets a good start off line but heading into Turn 1 was chaos. Sebastian Vettel was clipped from behind by Danill Kvyat, the man he angrily blamed for causing a Turn 1 collision in China, which bumped him into the other Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo.

Vettel’s misery was compounded at the next corner when Kvyat slammed into the back of him again which then spun the Ferrari into the wall and out of the race. This then triggered an expletive-laden radio message from Vettel who you could understand the way he reacted even though many fans disagreed with Vettel blaming Kvyat for the China incident. But on Lap six of the race, Kvyat stopped to serve a ten-second stop-go penalty in front of a grandstand of home fans.

Esteban Gutierrez and Nico Hulkenberg colliding with each other on Lap 1. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Esteban Gutierrez and Nico Hulkenberg colliding with each other on Lap 1. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

While the battle between Kvyat and Vettel was ongoing, Haas F1 driver Esteban Gutierrez clipped Nico Hulkenberg, spinning the Force India driver around and also collecting the Manor of Rio Haryanto. While the Haas driver recovered to the pit lane for a new front wing, the incident ended the race for both Hulkenberg and Haryanto.

The safety car was deployed for two laps and after the restart, Rosberg still lead the field ahead of Valtteri Bottas reclaimed second position from Kimi Raikkonen while Lewis Hamilton overtook Massa for fourth.

Lewis Hamilton on Lap 5 of the Russian GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lewis Hamilton on Lap 5 of the Russian GP. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

On Lap five, Hamilton dove down the inside of Raikkonen at Turn 5 to move up to third with a brilliant move, but Bottas’ Williams was a harder obstacle to overcome and the battle was on between both of the drivers.

Nico Rosberg leads the Russian GP on Lap 6. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Nico Rosberg leads the Russian GP on Lap 6. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lap 6 of the race saw Rosberg leading the field by 2.5 seconds. There is a battle for twelfth between Nasr, Button, Wehrlein, Kvyat and Ericsson ongoing on the track. But Kvyat and Ericsson were battling each other hard for fifteenth place; with both drivers defending well from each other but Kvyat is then able to get past him despite having no traction in the corners.

We then see a battle between Raikkonen and Bottas for position on the track which both drivers defended well. But then Raikkonen finds himself under threat from Hamilton and is able to pass him for third place in Lap 7.

Lewis Hamilton after passing Valtteri Bottas on Lap

Lewis Hamilton after passing Valtteri Bottas on Lap 16. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Hamilton was finally released into second when Bottas pitted on Lap 15, but by then was 15 seconds behind leader Rosberg. Hamilton then pitted himself for soft tyres a lap later and was just beaten to Turn 2 by Bottas, though he passed the Williams driver at the same point one lap later.

By Lap 18, Rosberg still leads ahead of 15.1 seconds ahead of Raikkonen. After the pitstops on Lap 21, Raikkonen now finds himself in a net third place; with Hamilton now moving into second place and hoping to close the gap to his team mate for the lead of the race. Rosberg then pits himself on Lap 22 and still remains in the lead of the race ahead of Verstappen who hasn’t stopped yet.

Carlos Sainz Jr on Lap 26 of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Carlos Sainz Jr on Lap 26 of the race. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lap 26 of the race saw Sainz Jr being under investigation by the stewards for forcing another driver off the track when he was trying to pass Palmer for track position and is then given a 10 second penalty for the offence. Ricciardo and Magnussen are battling each other for tenth place on the track as Rosberg still leads the race.

A few laps later, the battle for sixteenth between Nasr, Wehrlein and Kvyat is ongoing. Wehrlein tried to get past Nasr for position but made the move from too far behind and Nasr is able to defend. But the next lap sees Kvyat passing Wehrlein with a good move and is now seventeenth place.

Kevin Magnussen in the battle for eighth place. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Kevin Magnussen in the battle for eighth place. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Lap 29 sees the battle for eighth between Magnussen, Grosjean, Ricciardo and Sainz Jr building up nicely. Ricciardo passes Magnussen, Magnussen regaining the position as Grosjean sees an opportunity to pass Ricciardo which he does and Sainz Jr gaining on them all the time.

Two laps later sees Perez passing Sainz Jr for track position. Lap 35 saw Max Verstappen while running sixth in the race having to retire his Toro Rosso due to engine problems. Lap 36 still sees Rosberg leading the race ahead of Hamilton by 8.2 seconds; with Hamilton catching Rosberg quickly now.

With Sainz Jr getting a 10 second penalty, both McLaren drivers could get points and it will be interesting to see how the final third of the race unfolds. It has now been reported that Hamilton has a water issue problem with his Mercedes engine and has been asked to take it easy for the remainder of the race.

Nico Rosberg wins the Russian GP ahead of Lewis Hamilton in second place and Kimi Raikkonen in third place. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Nico Rosberg wins the Russian GP ahead of Lewis Hamilton in second place and Kimi Raikkonen in third place. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

But Rosberg leads Hamilton on the final lap of the race by 20.7 seconds and wins the Russian Grand Prix which is his seventh consecutive win in F1, his fourth of the season and his eighteenth win of his career.

Hamilton is a credible second 25 seconds behind Rosberg, Raikkonen finished in third place 31.9 seconds behind Rosberg, Bottas was a credible fourth 50.2 seconds behind Rosberg and Massa finished fifth 1.14.4 seconds behind Rosberg.

Alonso was sixth 1 lap behind Rosberg, Magnussen was seventh 1 lap behind Rosberg, Grosjean was eighth  1 lap behind Rosberg, Perez was ninth  1 lap behind Rosberg and Button was tenth 1 lap behind Rosberg.

Nico Rosberg leads the Drivers’ Championship with 100 points, Hamilton is second with 57 points, Raikkonen is third with 43 points, Ricciardo is fourth with 36 points, Vettel is fifth with 33 points, Massa is sixth with 32 points, Grosjean is seventh with 22 points, Kvyat is eighth with 21 points, Bottas is ninth with 19 points and Verstappen is tenth with 13 points.

Mercedes lead the Constructors Championship with 157 points, Ferrari is second with 76 points, Red Bull are third with 57 points, Williams are fourth with 51 points, Haas are fifth with 22 points, Toro Rosso are sixth with 17 points, McLaren are seventh with 10 points, Force India are eighth with 8 points and Renault are ninth with 6 points.

Conclusion

I feel that McLaren have had an good weekend and have shown that they can still race near the front when they have the opportunity to do so. Alonso getting sixth place has been the biggest surprise of the race. Fernando drove a superb race to gain sixth yesterday despite a defensive race and it is very well deserved. And for him to secure this result shows that he did a brilliant job and has shown that despite not having the outright pace to challenge their rivals; he drove a great race to claim this result today and showed why he was signed by the team.

With Button gaining a point in tenth, I was very happy for him especially after battling through the grid to achieve it and racing hard. But with both drivers scoring points, this weekend has been great for them and for both drivers to get their first points of the season is fantastic and showing that even though it is still clear that the McLaren team have a lot of work to do in order to try and extract performance from their car, they are making small gains that have paid off yesterday.

Perez did an okay job to get ninth place and had a great battle to get there after battling with Verstappen, Sainz Jr, Ricciardo and Buttonfor most of the race. This point for himself and Force India are vital and only shows just how much promise he has as a driver if he has the car underneath him to do so and that he is a talented and promising racing driver.

Grosjean battled his way through yesterday to get eighth place.  He battled his way through the field and created some great overtaking moves to get there. Grosjean may not have had the weekend that he wanted with Haas this weekend but he did the best that he could do and picked up some more points for the team and also started his season well.

Magnussen had a bit of an action packed yet defensive race to finish seventh, scoring his first points of the season and Renault’s first points since returning to the sport as a works based team. But there is still a lot of work to be done but the fact that Magnussen managed to score some much needed points for himself and his team will help him prepare for the rest of the 2016 season.

Massa did a great job to get fifth place today after battling with his team mate and Hamilton today. But in a race where many expected him to finish and to maintain the momentum he has so far, he has managed to gain some points for the team and put himself in good stead for the rest of the 2016 season.

Bottas did a great job to get fourth place yesterday and deserves a mention. He drove a solid race today despite not winning the battle with Lewis and he did a great job to secure some much needed points for his team after a good performance this weekend and it is clear that the car was working well for them as a result. This will only help him prepare for the rest of the 2016 season.

Raikkonen deserves a mention. He drove a solid race to third place and battled his way through to get these points which just solidify Ferrari’s status in the Constructors Championship. But he needs to keep the momentum going and see if he can get back to the front in Barcelona in two weeks time.

Hamilton drove a solid race to finish second today. He may not have had the race he wanted; and didn’t have a chance to try and get past but he did a great job to secure a podium today. What a fantastic job from him and this will only give him a slight satisfaction heading into the next race in Barcelona.

All that is left to say about this race is that Rosberg deserved to win at Sochi and he needed to in order to show that he cannot be discounted as a driver.  His driving was brilliant and controlled throughout the race. Mercedes has built on the results that they have gained so far since pre-season testing and have shown that they are just the best team on the grid at the moment. All credit to Rosberg for doing a superb job this weekend and winning his seventh consecutive race and his third race of the season.

With Barcelona not far away, many will wondering if this season will be Rosberg’s at last or can Hamilton or Vettel challenge him for wins along the way. But what is for certain is that Formula One is building up rather nicely.