Sahara Force India F1 Team‘s Deputy Team Principal Robert Fernley believes that the team will have to deal with the threat posed by Renault Sport Formula 1 Team and McLaren F1 Team in the upcoming 2018 Formula One season.
Force India surpassed it’s budget of £90 million in the 2017 season, finishing fourth in the Constructor’s Championship behind the big three teams, which is a testament to the quality of the team and of the drivers, Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez. However, Fernley sees 2018 as being more of a challenge to hold onto that position.
McLaren will be using the Renault Sport power unit in the upcoming season, something that they hope will restore them to former glory after the last three years of unreliability from Honda. Renault themselves will be hoping to improve on their sixth place in the Constructor’s Championship.
“Caution would be both Renault and McLaren look quite handy so make sure we focus on the winter,” said Fernley when speaking to Motorsport.com.
They are a significant threat and we need to take it seriously. We need to do quite a bit of work ourselves to make sure that we accommodate that.
There will be no quarter given for those three cars. The three teams will be locked in a massive battle.”
The difference in budget is something that Fernley is keenly aware of, but knows that Force India have been able to hold their own in the past.
“It’ll always be difficult to compete against the bigger budgets,” he said, “but saying that we’ve done it for two years in a row so there’s no reason why we can’t do it for a third.”
Fernley is convinced that the additional threat posed will not alter the way the team approaches the new season.
“If you looked at the beginning of the season, which was the hard part, we didn’t have the car underneath us. So we had to use a lot more racing strategy, reliability and good driving.
“That has to stay in place for next year but on top of that, hopefully, we’re performing properly next year. You’ll still have that gap to the top three but there will be three teams going for fourth place.”