Force India Quicker Than Red Bull in Canada, Says Fernley

Credit: Sahara Force India F1 Team

Following their second-largest points haul of the season, Sahara Force India F1 Team deputy team principal Robert Fernley was satisfied with the Silverstone-based team’s performance, even though they were unable to beat Red Bull Racing and the lead Scuderia Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel.

Both Sergio Pérez and Esteban Ocon were on the default one-stop strategy, but found themselves stuck behind Daniel Ricciardo, who worked the undercut successfully on Lap 18 to hold track position. This in turn backed the pair into the chasing Sebastian Vettel, who passed the duo on fresh ultrasofts.

This left Pérez and Ocon to duke it out for inter-team superiority, with the former holding the latter at bay entering the final chicane twice in the closing laps. Despite the late loss of position to Vettel, and the close quarters racing between his drivers, Fernley was still enthused by their respective performances.

“The car has been competitive all weekend and it’s very satisfying to see us convert our potential into a good bunch of points,” he said. “The battle between Sergio and Esteban was one of the stories of the race and showed how closely-matched they are as teammates”

Fernley suggested that their inability to pass was down to the track, and the Force India’s pace was better than their last stint suggested. “We clearly had the quicker car compared to the Red Bull of Ricciardo, but overtaking in Montreal is never easy and we spent almost the entire race in his wheel tracks,” he continued.

In an attempt to aid their efforts to pass Ricciardo, the team had made efforts to convince Pérez to allow Ocon through and challenge Ricciardo directly, but withdrew the idea when it became clear the Mexican would not be compliant with such an order.

“After the pit stops, Esteban was right behind Sergio and had a pace advantage thanks to his fresher tyres,” Fernley explained. “We advised both drivers of the situation and considered switching them around, but ultimately we chose to let them race. They were tough with each other on the track, but it was a fair fight.”

Force India now sit very securely in fourth position of the World Constructors’ Championship, their 18 point haul to nearest rival Scuderia Toro Rosso‘s double-DNF giving them a 42 point advantage in total after Canada.