Force India aiming for Red Bull after strong start to 2017 campaign

Esteban Ocon celebrates his fifth position at the end of the Spanish Grand Prix. Credit: Sahara Force India F1 Team

Otmar Szafnauer believes the Sahara Force India F1 Team can now target Red Bull Racing, after seeing the team close the gap in the Constructors’ Championship at the Spanish Grand Prix thanks to a fourth consecutive double points finish.

Red Bull have only managed to finish with one car in four of the opening five races of 2017, where as Force India have secured points with both Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon in every race, and with the Silverstone-based outfit finishing in fourth and fifth in Spain, they crept closer to Red Bull by seven points.

With this performance in mind, Chief Operating Officer Szafnauer admits this gives them the opportunity to chase Red Bull for third in the Constructors’ Championship, but he knows they will have to improve the pace of the car in order to do so.

“We’re 19 points behind them now with a quarter of the season gone,” Szafnauer said on “There’s three quarters of the season to go – 19 points isn’t insurmountable so it’s still an objective that is achievable, but in order for us to achieve that we need more pace. They’re faster than us, they’re going to beat us, it’s that simple.

“So if we can improve the pace of the car and develop at a quicker rate than Red Bull, the fact that we’re only 19 points behind could allow us to achieve. But I don’t know if that will happen. If everything stays the same, relative performance, they will beat us.”

Force India have outscored Red Bull by 43 points to 35 since the Bahrain Grand Prix, and when asked if he would have taken that kind of gap at the start of the season, Szafnauer replied: “Are you kidding me? Even after Saturday morning!

“We haven’t maximized or optimized what we can do but we’ve come close and that’s satisfying. But that doesn’t happen by luck, it’s because if the car isn’t where you need it to be the guys here extract what they can from it.

“You need good development people back at the factory and you need good racers here. If you’ve got that depth then it happens and you can do it, and you need two good drivers.”