Force India success lies in decision to switch focus in 2013

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Just as Sauber’s decision to keep developing its 2013 car has come back to haunt the Swiss team in 2014, Force India’s Otmar Szafnauer has said the team’s call to focus on this year early has proven to be the right one.

In 2013, Force India made a good start to the season before its form fell off towards the end of the year, with the team eventually finishing sixth in the constructors’ behind McLaren.

Although Szafnauer, Force India’s chief operating officer, thinks that the team could have finished fifth, it would not have made such a superb start in 2014, and he feels that the changes made to Pirelli’s compounds damaged Force India more than others.

“We had a dilemma: do we stop what we’re doing for 2014 and react to the new tires, which would have taken us a while, or do we just continue?” he told Formula1.com, reflecting on 2013. “Had we tried to react, it would have had a bigger impact on this year’s car than what we could have gained last year.

“The only thing we could have gained was beating McLaren to fifth, and that was close anyway. So the potential upside was one position, but the downside this year would have been huge.”

Szafnauer was also quick to praise drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez, who have scored 98 points to put the team ahead of McLaren in the constructors’ with eight races to go.

“We have a very good relationship, a long-standing one, with Nico,” he said. “He is very intelligent, has good feedback and helps us develop the car.

“Sergio has fitted in very well in his first year. He is a very quick racing driver, especially in the races. He finished on the podium and Nico has scored in every race, so they’ve both done a very good job.”

Castroneves crashes out of Indy 500

Photo: IndyCar
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Helio Castroneves’ bid for a fourth Indianapolis 500 triumph came to an end following a restart on Lap 145, when his No. 3 Pennzoil Chevrolet broke loose exiting Turn 4, sending him spinning into the inside wall near the pit entrance.

Castroneves started eighth and had been running solidly inside the top 10 for much of the race, and he was sitting fifth following a Lap 145 restart. Further, the previous caution – for Sebastien Bourdais, who crashed in Turn 4 – set up Castroneves to possibly make it to the end of the race on more pit stop.

However, that effort came to a disappointing end not long after racing resumed.

Castroneves’ status for future Indy 500s is unknown, though he did make a plea to team owner Roger Penske to let him come back next year. “Please, Roger, I want to come back,” said Castroneves during his interview.

This is the first time Castroneves has crashed out of an Indy 500 since 2006.

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