Force India confident upgrades will pay dividends in Sochi

The Racing Point Force India team is once again confident that the new tech upgrades that were in place for the Singapore Grand Prix will pay dividends this weekend in Sochi.

The team traveled to Singapore with high hopes of a competitive result, having bought a raft of tech upgrades, including front wing revisions, new mirror mountings, a McLaren-style turning vane and further bargeboard fin tweaks.

But those hopes quickly turned to despair after contact between teammates Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon on the opening lap led to the Frenchman’s retirement.

Worse was to follow, as another racing incident involving the Williams of Sergey Sirotkin ended his chances of a points finish.

Despite the misfortune to have befallen the team in Singapore, Perez is confident that the team will have a strong weekend in Russia and that those all-important upgrades will this time pay off.

Sergio Perez during the 2018 F1 Singapore Grand Prix.
Sergio Perez during the 2018 F1 Singapore Grand Prix. © Force India F1.

“I am feeling positive about this weekend and I think we’ll be competitive,” said Perez in the team’s official preview. “Singapore did not bring us the result we expected but the performance and balance of the car were very good. If we can carry that pace forward to Sochi, we should expect a strong result. I think the new upgrades still have some potential to unlock and hopefully, we will be able to do so in Russia.”

Team principal and CEO Otmar Szafnauer echoed his driver’s sentiments and hopes that the new aero package will lead to a strong showing.

“There was one positive from Singapore – the pace of the car,” added Szafnauer. “Sergio qualified a comfortable seventh and the upgrades brought us an immediate performance step. There is definitely more to come, and Sochi is a good circuit to learn more about the new aero package. I think we can be up there this weekend fighting to be the best of the rest and scoring good points.”

Otmar Szafnauer
Force India CEO Otmar Szafnauer addressing Acronis’ guests during the 2018 Singapore Grand Prix.

Despite losing all their points up to the Belgian Grand Prix due to a technicality relating to the team’s change of ownership, the gap between fourth and seventh in the constructors’ standings is not unbreachable, as Renault’s Carlos Sainz told Autosport.

“Our target was to finish fourth in the constructors’ and if it was not for the penalty they suffered [Force India’s points reset] they would be ahead of us by pure performance,” Sainz told Autosport.

“We need to be very careful with Force India. We know that in the second half of the season they always start to come alive and they’ve proved it once more – once they’ve got a bit of money and everything. A track like Singapore where we expected to be ahead, we’re behind.”

All at the Acronis Mission Control Centre in Silverstone will be keeping their fingers crossed that this comes to pass as the season reaches its exciting climax.

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.