It will be hard work for the Sahara Force India team to close down the thirty-four-point gap to the McLaren team in the Constructors’ Championship, but with double points on offer and with Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez eager to impress for the final time in 2014, anything is possible.
Hulkenberg had a strong race two weeks ago in Interlagos, leading early on while running an alternative tyre strategy, before ultimately finishing eighth. He is hopeful of securing more points for the team in Abu Dhabi, already having had his most successful season in Formula 1.
“Abu Dhabi is a nice venue: very modern and with great facilities,” insisted Hulkenberg. “The racing looks really cool on TV as the day turns into night and the track is pretty challenging for us in the car as well.
“The light is not really an issue once you are in the cockpit, but the layout makes it very easy to make mistakes and lose time, especially in qualifying. It’s very stop-start, with a few chicanes and tight corners, so it is very difficult to get a good rhythm.
“It was nice to be back on the pace in Brazil and hopefully we will have similar pace in Abu Dhabi. It has been a great year for everyone in the team and it would be nice to end the season in style with some more points.”
Perez had an extremely disappointing weekend in Brazil, failing to score any points, but is hopeful of a better weekend in the desert this weekend. He admits to enjoying the Abu Dhabi circuit, but feels it is not an easy track to get right, and the Mexican insists he is motivated to secure a good result for the team in the final race of the year.
“Abu Dhabi is a special race on a circuit I really enjoy,” said Perez. “It’s where I first drove a Formula One car and that is something that will remain with me forever.
“The facilities are great and the track is not easy to master: this year we also have double points and that gives you even more motivation to do well.
“Everything in the lap requires some compromise – you need a set-up that works on fast corners, stop-start turns and the twisty final sectors. You also need to think carefully about your choice of helmet visor: you start the race with a low sun that requires a dark visor, and end the race in the night needing a clear one.”
Deputy Team Principal Bob Fernley has revealed that an aero concept mistake, a major factor in the teams apparent loss of pace especially with the deficit to McLaren having grown in recent races, has been rectified, and believes the team should be stronger in Abu Dhabi this weekend.
“Obviously they [McLaren] do have a much more significant development budget than ours, but we have to take our own responsibility that our upgrades didn’t quite deliver what we had hoped they would do,” said Fernley to Autosport. “We took a wrong direction mid-season, and we only worked that out a race or so ago.
“We have moved in the right direction now and although it has helped us move forward with the 2015 car, it lost us some ground just after the halfway point of this year. So our tail off was the result of that step in the wrong direction.”