The Mercedes-powered Force India outfit were one of the teams riding a crest of a wave heading into Melbourne, on the back of one of their most promising winter’s, with the team highlighting their pace in the final Bahrain test. Consequently, an underwhelming sixth and tenth in the first race of the season was a disappointing outcome, and the team’s Deputy Team Principal Bob Fernley has demanded that they up their pace in the coming rounds. However, this tough reaction to a double points finish is surly a promising sign for Force India fans.
“Acceptable but not Exceptional”
The Australian Grand Prix was a very different affair for both Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez. In typical fashion, Hulkenberg popped up in P4 early on, yet failed to maintain pace with an ever escaping Kevin Magnussen. Throughout the first stint, Nico frustrated Fernando Alonso, who could not find a way past the Force India. With Mercedes power, the VJM07 is exceptional in a straight line. With significant graining on the left front contributing to the speed deficiency, P6 was always a likely outcome. Meanwhile, after sustaining damage in a lap one incident with Esteban Gutierrez, Perez fought back to P10, yet spent much of the race in obscurity.
After the team had been widely tipped for podiums early on in the campaign, Fernley has recognised that improvements need to be made. “We didn’t quite have the race pace as we would have liked, so we have got a bit of work to do,” he told Autosport. “We have just got to focus now on making sure we do a little bit of work on the performance side. We have got reliability, which is good, and which is across the board with the Mercedes-powered cars, so we’ve got to inch ourselves up and make sure we are fighting with McLaren and Williams.” Fighting with the Williams and McLaren’s is where we anticipated Force India to be.
However, Force India fans should take the hidden positives from this declaration of intent. A previously welcomed double points finish is perceived to be nothing more than “acceptable” in terms of the team’s 2014 aspirations. Evidently, they want the P5 in the constructors which alluded them last season, as events regarding tyre construction conspired against them. With reliability seemingly secure, (- well, as much as it can be in 2014,) podiums and perhaps race wins are a possibility this season.
It is unsurprising that Fernley is desperate to capitalize on their early season form. In 2013, their early season form disappeared as the year progressed and with this season pivoting on the development race, it will be all too easy for history to repeat itself. Consequently, Force India need to get points in the bag while in the ascendancy.