Force India expects to have a harder time overhauling Renault in the constructors’ championship this season, despite McLaren currently sitting fourth ahead of the French manufacturer.
McLaren has scored points with both cars in three of the four races so far this season, with Fernando Alonso yet to finish outside the top seven. Despite those strong race results, the car’s outright pace has been lacking, with the team also yet to reach Q3. Renault, by contrast, currently sits one point adrift in fifth place but has shown itself to have an all-round quicker car.
With Force India now up to sixth in the constructors’ standings after an impressive podium for Sergio Perez in Baku, deputy team principal Bob Fernley has his sights set on overhauling the two teams directly above.
“I think we were generally fourth-quickest across the board, both in race and in qualifying,” Fernley told RACER. “But I also think it’s very circuit-specific. I don’t think we’ve completely resolved the aero correlation issues that we’ve had following Melbourne, but I think we were stronger in Bahrain, we were pretty strong in China and we should have had points in both of those races. But we’ll take this one!
“I think it just gives us the opportunity to have a look again. That’s moved us up into sixth place now behind Renault and McLaren. I think we could have outraced McLaren on both recent occasions in Bahrain and China, it’s just first-lap incidents. Renault are looking very consistent and that’s probably going to be the harder one.”
Force India underwent a turnover in some of its personnel ahead of this season, but Fernley said cthat the changes have not had a major impact.
“In this business you’ve always got a turnover of staff, especially with the traveling. So you always tend to lose some of the traveling team, but overall the cause is always the same. You may lose one of the good players but fortunately they can be supported by the team as a whole and brought through so it never really affects us.”
Force India had scored just one point courtesy of Esteban Ocon in Bahrain before Perez’s result, leaving it 19 points behind Renault and 20 adrift of McLaren at this stage of the season.