Sahara Force India – A Brief History


Rewind to 1991. Eddie Jordan had his own team in his name and with Bertrand Gachot and Andrea de Cesaris at the wheel of either car results turned out to be hard to come by. Only two double points finishes in their first season which included a debut for Michael Schumacher at the Belgian Grand Prix, a race which he failed to finish.

Seventeen years later, having undergone a further two name changes, Sahara Force India were introduced to the Formula 1 paddock at the Australian Grand Prix in 2008. Having had largely unsuccessful stints under Midland F1 and then subsequently as Spyker F1, Vijay Mallya bought the team and hence the name Force India was born. Sahara became a partner to the team in October 2011.

Adrian Sutil was retained after racing for Spyker F1 and Giancarlo Fisichella was given the second race seat ahead of Vitantonio Liuzzi who was given the role of reserve driver. The original team aim was to be ahead of Super Aguri, the team who had been at the back of the grid on a regular basis with Force India’s predecessors. Fast forward to Melbourne, Australia and the start of the teams’ era could have been better. Both Sutil and Fisichella retired in the first few laps and the team finished pointless from the season. Vijay Mallya admitted earlier in the 2008 season that the focus was more on the 2009 car, making even the first season one of transition.

The second season saw a slightly more successful campaign. Giancarlo Fisichella scored the teams’ first pole position at the Belgian Grand Prix. With that came the first points finish and the first podium since the takeover. Fisichella was released by the team after that weekend with Vitantonio Liuzzi taking the place of his country man. At the next race in Italy, Adrian Sutil qualified second and finished fourth in what turned out to be a successful couple of races for the outfit from Silverstone. The team finished ninth in the constructors championship, one place and 13 points better off than the previous campaign.

There were points scored from the off in 2010. Liuzzi continued to be partnered by Adrian Sutil with Scot Paul di Resta as the team’s test driver. Liuzzi, finished ninth in the first race in Bahrain and then seventh in Australia but Sutil had rather differing fortunes, retiring in both races. Malaysia was a better showing for Sutil who scored ten points with a fifth place finish. Double points finishes in Monaco and Canada, combined with Sutil’s ninth place in Turkey was the promising start to the season the team had hoped for. The team finished seventh with an impressive 68 points at the end of the season. Not bad for a team that was only three seasons old.

Paul di Resta was promoted to a race seat for 2011 to partner Adrian Sutil and the points finishes were shared out between the drivers. Double points finishes came in Australia, Singapore and the final two races of the season in Abu Dhabi and Brazil. The highest race finish was 6th place in Brazil and the team finished one point better off than the previous season, consolidating their seventh place in the Constructors Championship.

2012 saw the Force India almost double their points tally from 2011, moving up to sixth in the Championship thanks to fourth place finishes for Belgium for Paul di Resta and in Singapore for Nico Hulkenburg. The German was signed by the team after Adrian Sutil had opted to take a year out of the sport. Four double points finishes ensured the increase in the season points tally but the team moved back down to the seventh place they achieved in the 2010 season. Mixed results, but results would improve the following seasons.

77 points were scored in 2013 and the team moved back up to sixth place in the Championship which would then be consolidated in 2014, albeit scoring double the points as 2013. Adrian Sutil rejoined the team and as in 2011, he partnered Paul di Resta. Di Resta had the better results in the first seven races with Malaysia being his only retirement whereas Sutil had two retirements and two finishes outside of the points in the same amount of races. The second half of the season was more of a struggle with only two double points finishes.

Two new drivers in 2014 brought better results as the team scored points in every race including a third place for Sergio Perez in Bahrain. Two double retirements in Hungary and USA were the only downside. The team secured their highest points tally with 155 points under Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg. The two drivers were retained for 2015 with the pair having an inconsistent opening half of the season but a new version of the 2015 car, the VJM08B seemed to improve that with the season best of third for Sergio Perez in Japan, the teams third podium.

To date, Force India have had a relatively successful time of it. Three podiums, one pole position and fifth place in he Constuctors Championship. Perez and Hulkenberg have been retained for another season and the team hope they can once again consolidate before the new rules and regulations take effect in 2017.