High Hopes Remain for Force India ahead of Home GP

The factory gates of the Sahara Force India team are literally a stones throw away from the Silverstone circuit, and both Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg arrive for the British Grand Prix in high spirits and with hope of scoring more valuable points for the team in their quest to remain fourth in the Formula One World Constructors Championship.

After finding himself amongst the midfield in qualifying in Austria due to a grid-drop penalty brought over from the previous round in Canada, Perez was one of the stars of the Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring, coming through the field to finish an excellent sixth. He felt it was a strong race for himself, and believed a podium finish could have been possible without the penalty.

“It was a very strong race for us and an important result,” said Perez. “I think we had the pace to fight for a podium, but allowing for the circumstances I think we did a good job. Considering where we started, I think we took the maximum out of the race. The good start was especially important because I was running the first stint on the prime tyre. That set me up for a strong afternoon.

“The approach we take is to think about how we can be competitive over a 70 lap race. In the last few events I’ve done really well, apart from Monaco, where we didn’t have the opportunity. We’re getting there, but it’s just unfortunate that we’ve been unlucky. In Montreal, for example, we were close to winning the race. I’m sure we can get some good results in the second half of the season.”

Arriving at Silverstone, he feels the race might be more of a challenge, but believes a good result is possible on a track he enjoys to race on.

“I think Silverstone will be a bit more of a challenge compared to the last few races, but I am sure we can still do a good job,” said Perez. “It’s a track I enjoy and I usually go well there. We have been performing solidly on every track so far and I see no reason we can’t put in a similar performance this weekend. It’s also the team’s local race so this adds an extra motivation for us to do well.”

Compared to team-mate Perez, Nico Hulkenberg did not perform to the level he has done on numerous occasions in 2014 in Austria, but still managed to come away from the event with a couple of points continuing his 100% record of points finishes this season. He felt the unbalanced nature of his car at Red Bull Ring cost him valuable time, and believes a much stronger run is possible when the team understand the cause of those issues that blighted him in Austria.

“We probably did not show our true potential,” said Hulkenberg said of Austria. “We were struggling with the car balance and I think that had an impact on the tyres. It’s still good to come away with points, but I think there is more to come when I get on top of the issues we had in Austria.”

Like many drivers up and down the grid, Hulkenberg rates the British Grand Prix amongst his favourite races of the year. He is unsure about how the choice of the harder compounds of Pirelli tyre will affect the car at Silverstone, but he heads into the race weekend confident of scoring more points.

“It’s definitely one of my favourite races,” admits Hulkenberg. “We had a full house at the last race in Austria and I expect the same at Silverstone. The fans are great and it’s a race with so much history. Because it’s the home of the team, I can spend a lot of time at the factory seeing the faces that I don’t get to see that often. There’s always a good feeling about the whole week.

“All of the drivers enjoy the quick parts of the lap and you have to be committed. When you hook up all the corners in one lap it’s a great feeling. It’s difficult to know how the harder compounds will impact us, but I hope I can continue my run of points.”

Team Principal and Managing Director of Sahara Force India Dr Vijay Mallya knows it is time for the team to competitive on all circuits. The Silverstone event represents the home race for the team, and Mallya wants to put on a good performance and bring home some more valuable points for the team.

“We have to get out of this mindset of saying we are good on this track and not so good on another track,” said Mallya. “We need to be competitive on all tracks, which has been the case so far this year. Silverstone is special for us; we regard it as our home track. We’ll pull out all the stops and put on a good performance.”

Mallya heaped some praise onto Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez after his display in Austria, admiring his apparent maturity behind the wheel of the car. He was slightly disappointed with Hulkenbergs result in Austria, but as a driver the Team Principal cannot fault the German driver.

“I have a great respect for Checo and his talent,” said Mallya. “He’s a gutsy guy, he loves his racing, and irrespective of who is in front or behind he keeps his cool and displays a lot of maturity, which is great. The way he passed [Kevin] Magnussen in Austria was impressive. He’s a talented young lad and I’m happy to have him in the team.

“It was a very good boost, especially for Checo, after what happened in Montreal. He got the fastest lap too, which I think says a lot. It was important to get both cars in the points to hold onto our fourth place in the championship, although I think we could have done a bit better with Nico.

“Nico’s class is well recognised in the paddock and he’s scored points in every race this year. I expect him to shine in the second half of the season too.”