Force India joined Formula 1 in 2008 from the ashes of the Jordan team. They took over the Silverstone headquarters and lined up with Adrian Sutil and Giancarlo Fisichella for the Australian Grand Prix, only for both to retire in the first few laps. Force India didn’t score a single point in their maiden season, finishing last in the Constructors’ Championship. They had to wait until race 12 of the 2009 season for their first points, and it was also their first podium as Fisichella claimed a second place at the European Grand Prix in Valencia.
That result stands as their best in Formula 1 despite becoming a more competitive team in recent years. In 2014 they got back on a podium thanks to Sergio Perez with a third place in Bahrain, a result he has equalled four times since. They have had a slow rise up the Constructors’ Championship, finishing 5th in 2015 and then 4th in both 2016 & ’17. They were on pace for another 4th place finish in 2018 before the team ran into financial difficulties and ended up being sold to Lawrence Stroll, forcing their points tally to be reset.
Their lack of a race win isn’t really that surprising given the structure of Formula 1 these days, but can you get Force India onto the top step of the podium at last?
Force India sit happily in the midfield, but thanks to Sergio Perez’s five podium finishes in the last few years they expect you to “Push For Podiums”. This means you need to have yourself in position should the top three teams suffer from reliability issues or tangle at some point. You won’t be able to match them for pace during season 1, but if you fend off the other midfield teams you can pounce when the circumstances allow.
They also expect you to display sportsmanship. This means being respectful in interviews and respecting your rivals. You won’t always have the right option available, but the more you trend toward sportsmanship the more forgiving Force India will be if results don’t go your way.
If you want results to go your way you’ll have to focus in on the research & development of the car. Force India is a very imbalanced package, sitting pretty in the powertrain department thanks to the Mercedes power unit in the back they are second in performance there. However, the chassis ranks sixth and the aerodynamic package is a woeful eighth, ahead of just Williams and Sauber.
This means that you have to immediately get to work in the aerodynamics department. You start your career with 1,700 resource points, and there are three major upgrades that are immediately available. If you complete a few practice programs in Australia before you spend your points then you can afford to purchase both the efficiency booster and the front downforce major upgrade. It won’t be available until Azerbaijan, but the aero package is so far behind Force India’s rivals that you have to start there, and get the rear downforce major upgrade on the car as quickly as possible too.
Force India’s R&D tree is very linear, but the ultimate upgrades are a long, hard, slog away. All three of the powertrain ones are at the end of the central branch, so don’t bother buying any of the minor upgrades that veer off the straight line. The same is true of the aero department, where every ultimate upgrade is along the bottom line. There aren’t too many branches to tempt you away, but you have to get through four minor and three major upgrades before you can access the ultimate drag upgrade. You also shouldn’t just race down one side of the tree to get to it, as the imbalance between front and rear downforce will severely destabilise the car.
Force India are not the most driveable of the midfield teams, but thanks to their power advantage they have a big edge at some of the early tracks like Bahrain and Azerbaijan. It will be tough to compete for a win at any point in season 1 with their aerodynamics deficiency, and hard to sustain a championship push in season 2 as the car will be weak at places like Monaco, Hungary, Singapore and Suzuka.
If you really ace your research & development then you may be able to do well enough at power circuits to mitigate the loss of points at the more technical and chassis/aero-reliant ones and take down the crown in season 2, but it will be a tough challenge.
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