Those were testing times when Vijay Mallya and Michiel Mol bought the struggling Spyker Formula One team. It was rechristened Force India, thus putting India’s name in the elite league. It evoked mixed reactions. Indians were naturally thrilled; now their countryman was the owner of a Formula One team.
However, it was always going to be tough to run a team that was not doing so well previously. In the ever-so-competitive world of Formula One, where even a hundredth of a second makes a big difference, how would they fare? It was a tough situation.
They inherited the Spyker chassis that was competing against teams at the end of the grid such as Super Aguri. But, there was potential. Who can ever forget the 2008 Monaco Grand Prix when their German driver Adrian Sutil was driving well in a wet race and in the running for points. Sadly, Ferrari’s Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen rammed into the back of Sutil’s car after losing control and sent the latter out of the race.
In 2009, Force India took a major step when they opted for engines and gearboxes from McLaren-Mercedes. The results started to come slowly. The biggest improvement was in the area of reliability.
The big moment came in the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix when Italian Giancarlo Fisichella stormed to the pole position and finished second. In the next race, the Italian GP Sutil started second on the grid and finished fourth. The two finishes proved that they were heading in the right direction. Fisichella moved to Ferrari in the middle of the season and Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi came in.
With drivers Sutil and Liuzzi, the 2010 season saw the team scoring points regularly. They finished seventh with 68 points in the constructors’ championship and just one point behind Williams. With Brit Paul di Resta coming in for Liuzzi, Force India was reasonably successful in the 2011 season also. The team scored 69 points and finished sixth among the constructors.
Towards the end of the 2011 season, Sahara India bought a 42.5 per cent share in the team. Now, they were named Sahara Force India.
As we come to the fag end of the 2012 championship, Force India are far more respected in the paddocks. They are no pushovers, but serious contenders. Di Resta and German Nico Hulkenberg have been scoring points regularly, with just two retirements in the season so far and the best being fourth places by both the drivers. They are currently seventh in the constructors’ standings with 89 points and four races to go.
With the Indian GP coming up this weekend, they are sure to get ample support at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida. Hopefully, they will scale greater heights in the seasons to come.
How they finished