Report: As Force India awaits car upgrades, team preps for China in search of points

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The going hasn’t been easy for Sahara Force India to kick off the 2015 Formula 1 season, with its new VJM08 chassis delayed until the third and final test of the preseason and now updates to said chassis likely to wait until the heart of the European season.

Deputy team principal Bob Fernley told Autosport expected upgrades will now not be introduced until the Austrian Grand Prix on June 21, at the earliest.

“It’s a major B-spec car as we’re looking to introduce a significant upgrade,” Fernley told Autosport. “We felt we might as well try and hold with what we can and then hopefully we can bolt on an improvement.”

Force India made it into the points in Australia more by surviving than by outright pace, but managed a double score with Nico Hulkenberg in seventh and Sergio Perez in 10th.

At Malaysia two weeks ago, Perez and Hulkenberg ended 13th and 14th.

The team heads to China this week at the moment unlikely to match their results of sixth (Hulkenberg) and ninth (Perez), on current form.

“Everyone in the team deserves credit for the strong reliability of the VJM08, but there is a long way to go on the development path,” team principal Vijay Mallya said in the team’s advance release. “We know the areas we need to improve and I’ve been impressed with the attitude of the team. The morale is strong and we will keep fighting hard to score as many points as we can in these early races.

“The upcoming weekend in China will be an interesting one. We will try and take some steps forward, based on what we have learned in Malaysia, and we will go to Shanghai targeting points. Formula One put on a very good show in Sepang so let’s hope for more close racing this weekend.”

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry. Time just published a brief piece by Wallace saluting Hamilton as a trailblazer.

The idea of Hamilton attending the NASCAR season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it would seem right for Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — to spend some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).