Force India is focusing on closing the gap to the top three teams in 2018 rather than defending its fourth place in the constructors’ championship.
Following on from a best-ever constructors’ championship finish of fourth place in 2016, Force India finished over 100 points clear of fifth-placed Williams last season as it repeated that success. Having highlighted the team’s impressive development rate in 2017, technical director Andy Green sees the top three teams of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull as examples of how much room there still is for Force India to improve.
“The challenge gets tougher every year,” Green said. “We expect that, so we’ll try and do an even better job [in 2018].
“We are building year on year. We are still learning, we’ve still got a long way to go. If you see the guys ahead of us, they are still a long way ahead, so there’s still a lot to be gained. That’s our target, to close that gap to the top three teams.”
In 2017, Force India had a car in Q3 at all but four races, but only once was it able to get within a second of pole position, with Ocon 0.949s off pole in the Mexican Grand Prix.
Despite such a daunting gap, and with the likes of McLaren and Renault expected to make obvious improvements over the winter, chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer agreed with Green, saying the target remains realistic even for a smaller team because the benchmark has already been achieved.
“We hope we can catch up, that’s the hope,” Szafnauer added. “The fact that you know that that lap time is doable, it’s out there, we just have to find it.”
Only once in Force India’s history has it failed to at least match its previous season’s constructors’ championship result, slipping from sixth place in 2011 to seventh in 2012.