Force India had to work hard to secure a points finish – Otmar Szafnauer


Credit: Sahara Force India F1 Team

Sahara Force India F1 Team had to work very hard,” to secure a points position in Sunday’s Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix, according to Chief Operating Officer, Otmar Szafnauer. 

Esteban Ocon started the race at the Bahrain International Circuit in eighth place, and after 57 laps, came home in 10th place to score Force India’s first point of the season, after a pointless Australian Grand Prix.

Ocon’s team-mate, Mexican Sergio Perez had qualified in 12th place, and a contact with Red Bull Toro Rosso-Honda driver Brendon Hartley at Turn 4 on Lap 1 pitched Perez into a spin, and he fell to last place as a result.

To make matters worse for Perez, after the race, the stewards handed him a 30 second penalty for overtaking Hartley, who had qualified 11th, on the formation lap.

The penalty dropped Perez from 12th to 14th, with Hartley also picking up a post-race penalty to go with his 10 second penalty during the race.

Speaking about the contrasting race for both drivers afterwards, Szafnauer said: “We had to work very hard to score the final point tonight. 

“Esteban did an excellent job of chasing down (Renault Sport Formula 1 Team’s Carlos) Sainz in the final few laps, and put significant pressure on him to overtake and move back into the top 10.

“Sergio’s race was compromised heavily by the contact with Hartley on the opening lap, where we were simply the innocent victim. 

“There was big contact, which damaged the floor quite significantly and impacted performance.

“The spin dropped him to the back of the field and a slow puncture forced him to pit early and adopt a two-stop strategy. To recover to P12 was a tremendous effort in the circumstances.”

Marginal on strategy

One of the big talking points from the race was the fine balance in strategy between a one-stop or two-stopper.

The leading trio of Sebastian Vettel, Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton all attempted a one-stop, which paid off, with the three drivers completing the podium, but the midfield runners opted to abandon this strategy.

Force India was among the teams to switch both drivers to a two-stop, and Szafnauer was pleased that the team had made the right decision.

“It was marginal as to whether it would be a one or a two stop race, but I think we called it about right with both cars,” he explained.