F1 2015 team preview: Force India F1 Team

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Force India F1 Team

Drivers
No. 27 Nico Hulkenberg
No. 11 Sergio Perez

First Race: 2008 Australian Grand Prix
Grands Prix: 131
Pole Positions: 
1
Fastest Laps: 
3
Race Wins: 
0
Best Constructors’ Championship Finish: 
6th (2011, 2013, 2014)
2014 Championship Result: 
6th (155 points)

Following a breakthrough year that saw it finish with a record number of points and nearly beat McLaren, it seems odd that Force India enters 2015 with a cloud over its head. Financial constraints have hampered its progress over the winter, limiting the team to just two-and-a-half days of on-track running with its 2015 car during pre-season testing. Although the VJM08 enjoyed a good first outing, there is no doubt that Force India is a step or two behind the rest of the field heading to Melbourne next weekend.

It is a shame, for this could have been a big year for the team. In Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez, Force India has one of the most balanced and exciting line-ups on the grid, and would have been entering the new season with hopes of podium finishes and perhaps even a surprise race win should the stars align. Instead, it will have to simply focus on finding its feet in the first few races of the year, and beyond that, it is hard to say what the team is capable of in 2015. A midfield scrap with Lotus and Toro Rosso is perhaps the best bet here.

NICO HULKENBERG No. 27

Hulkenberg had limited laps before the third and final preseason test, which marked the first time Force India got out with its new VJM08 chassis. Few doubt his overall talent, but Hulkenberg needs a monster year if he is going to avoid the perpetual life in the midfield. Last year he was great in the first half, but tailed off a bit in the second half. Now, as he dovetails with two early season races in the Porsche 919 Hybrid in LMP1, it will be interesting to see if it affects his day job.

SERGIO PEREZ No. 11

Perez’s mileage was even more limited than Hulkenberg’s, getting just a single day behind the wheel of the VJM08 in Barcelona. The Mexican driver had a solid 2014, scoring just the second ever podium in Force India’s history in Bahrain, but he’ll face a tough task to do this once again in 2015. However, he will be flying the flag at the returning Mexican Grand Prix in November, and will be hoping that his excellent tire-management skills  can make up for the setbacks Force India has faced over the winter.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
IMSA
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”