Over the years, Force India have earned a seat at F1’s table for the underdogs. So often, the Silverstone based squad have turned a lightweight budget into welter-weight machinery over the winter, only to be reigned in by the opposition over the course of the year and 2014 was a clear example of this trait. Conversely, the start of the 2015 campaign was a tale of damage limitation while the engineers could paper over the cracks which formed as a result of a disjointed winter. As it has turned out, Force India have proven that they are just as good in defense as they are attack in the opening exchanges of a campaign.
As drivers, teams and fans were forced to cope with sweltering conditions at the Hungaroring, it was Lewis Hamilton who topped the timesheet in both sessions, on a day when grip was at a premium. Undoubtedly amplified by the track temperature which rarely fell below 50 degrees, a number of drivers found themselves struggling to find a balance, with Sebastian Vettel enduring a particularly challenging Friday, with two spins in FP2 following a slow start to FP1 due to an electrical connector issue. While Ferrari have work to do overnight, it is Red Bull who, on the basis of today, will be the best of the rest behind the class-leaders this weekend, as both Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat recorded impressive short and long run times.
Back in February, even the most optimistic of Force India fans were forced to temper their expectations for their team’s up-coming campaign. Following their lavish livery launch at the Soumaya Museum in Mexico City, the VJM08 was delayed, with the team announcing that a substantial upgrade package would arrive mid-season to compensate for a winter based on relocation. However, the team’s damage limitation exercise has proved to be a huge success, as they lie fifth in the constructors championship and look set to consolidate their position as the much anticipated aerodynamic overhaul arrives for the British Grand Prix.
It is no wonder, then, that Nico Hulkenberg is “looking forward” to sampling what the new and improved VJM08 has to offer.
It is quite remarkable that the driver billed to be the most naturally talented of his generation by many analysts, had never taken a pole position around F1’s most iconic circuit. However, Lewis Hamilton has addressed this oversight today, claiming a maiden Monaco pole position in style, recording two laps which were both good enough for top spot. Nico Rosberg seemed the favorite to win this particular act in the Mercedes inter-team scrap, as Lewis struggled through the opening two segments, but the German could not match his teammate in Q3, with his final attempt to usurp him scuppered by a lock-up into Sainte Devote. In the most important qualifying session of the year, it was Hamilton who hit the jackpot.
The VJM08 has been introduced to the world in various stages. First came the livery launch back in mid-January, followed by the VJM07 adorning the new colour scheme in last week’s Barcelona test. Finally, the VJM07 chassis has been parked and we now have a render of Force India’s 2015 challenger – and based on aesthetics, I would say that it was certainly worth the wait.
Speculation as to the scale of the delays restricting Force India this winter is rife and today, the team announced that fans will have to wait even longer for the VJM08 to hit the tarmac for the first time. After missing the Jerez test, the team will be in attendance for the next week’s Barcelona test, but with their drivers putting additional mileage on a car that they have been driving for a whole year. However, all is not lost for the Silverstone based squad.
Despite issues regarding connection to the live-stream for some viewers, fans were able to lay their eyes upon the first 2015 challenger today, as Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez pulled the covers off of the VJM08. Strictly speaking, the car on display was the 2014 equivalent, but with this year’s nose design and a striking new livery, the ceremony was very much a case of introducing a new machine.