F1 2016 Team Preview: Force India

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Entering its ninth season in Formula 1, Force India acts as evidence that backmarkers needn’t be backmarkers forever. Vijay Mallya’s team has grown in strength over the years to become one of the ‘upper-midfield’ teams in F1, and enjoyed its best season in the series last year by finishing fifth in the constructors’ championship.

Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg have both proven themselves to be two of F1’s unsung heroes over the past few years, combining for one of the most balanced line-ups on the grid. Could they lead Force India to bigger and better things in 2016?

TEAM: Sahara Force India F1 Team
ENGINE: Mercedes
CAR: Force India VJM09

2015 STATS

Races: 19
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 136
Laps Led: 0
Drivers’ Championship Positions: 9th (Sergio Perez); 10th (Nico Hulkenberg)
Constructors’ Championship Position: 5th

2016 LINE-UP

11. Sergio Perez (MEX)
27. Nico Hulkenberg (GER)


Force India’s 2015 was a strange one. Although it failed to score any truly major results early on, it picked up points consistently while rivals Lotus, Toro Rosso, Sauber and McLaren all struggled. Despite debuting the 2015 car late and not introducing a B-spec until Silverstone due to financial issues, Force India showed enormous resolve to become a big threat towards the end of the season. Sergio Perez’s podium finish in Russia was just the third in the history of Force India, and arguably, the team ended the year third-fastest behind Mercedes and Ferrari. By far Force India’s best F1 season so far.


Just as other teams may struggle to move any further up the grid in 2016 due to the stability of the technical regulations, Force India will most likely be targeting to finish in the top five once again. The new car looked quick in testing, and with the troubles of 2015 now a distant memory, this should be a less complicated year for the team. It will be interesting to see how Force India compares to the other major Mercedes customer team, Williams, and with Red Bull set to struggle early on, there is an opportunity for some big results in the first few races. A lofty target would be picking up where it left off in 2015 as the third-fastest team – but it’s by no means unimaginable.

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed its new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with Ford Motor Co. in an event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and team principal Christian Horner.

It’s the first Formula 1 team to launch in the United States for 2023, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin, Texas, for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen already had wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
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Now Verstappen’s thoughts inevitably will turn to establishing a dynasty, and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his chief rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.