Sahara Force India F1 Team
Formula 1 team
|F1 debut||Australian Grand Prix, 2008|
|Race driver||Sergio Pérez|
|Race driver||Esteban Ocon|
|Reserve driver||Alfonso Celis Jr|
|Reserve driver||George Russell|
|Team principal||Vijay Mallya|
|Deputy team principal||Robert Fernley|
|Chief engineer||Tom McCullough|
|Chief operating officer||Otmar Szafnauer|
|Technical director||Andrew Green|
Force India have seen a period of stability in their current guise, after being sold from one owner to the next until Vijay Mallya took control. A gradual improvement in results has also been seen, with the team managing a high of fourth place in the standings in 2016. The successful partnership of Hülkenberg and Pérez worked for four years until Nico departed. Esteban Ocon replaced him for 2017.
The Force India team can trace its origins all the way back to Jordan, the strikingly yellow-liveried outfit founded by Eddie Jordan. From 1991 to 2005, Jordan Grand Prix participated in Formula One, taking a couple of victories at the hands of Damon Hill and Heinz-Harald Frentzen. In their later years, Giancarlo Fisichella took Jordan to a surprise victory in Brazil.
When the finances began to get tight, and their engine deal fell through, Jordan sold the team to the Midland Group. They raced as Jordan for 2005, but were rebranded Midland MF1 Racing for the following season. Midland only participated in one season, picking up zero points, before the team were sold on again.
This time, Dutch sports car makers Spyker took over, rebranding the team and painting the livery a bright orange. As Spyker F1, the team ran again only for a single season, with the maximum four driver changes and one highlight eighth place in Japan. With behind the scenes politics making things difficult for the Spyker racing team, they were sold once more.
Indian entrepreneur Vijay Mallya and Dutch businessman Michiel Mol formed a consortium that bought the team, and for the 2008 season, they renamed it Force India. Towards the end of 2011, the Sahara India company bought a significant stake in the team, equalling Mallya’s 42.5% with Mol’s stake reduced to 15%. The team was then rebranded as Sahara Force India, with the two logos combining on the side of the car.
The team made a habit of running a driver for a year before promoting him to the test driver seat, with Paul di Resta arriving in 2011 and Nico Hülkenberg in 2012. Di Resta drove for them for three years, partnered initially with Adrian Sutil, then Nico, then Sutil again in 2013. Performance has gradually improved from the wrong end of the field towards the midfield, and the team have been close to picking up their first podium on several occasions.
At the end of the 2013 season, Sutil left for midfield rivals Sauber, whilst Di Resta was not retained for 2014. In their place, the team signed Sergio Pérez fresh from McLaren, whilst Hülkenberg returned from a year out at Sauber. Results were consistent but not stellar during the year, leaving the team with a healthy points haul but a disappointing championship finish. Force India retained their driver lineup for 2015 and 2016.
Their 2016 season went exceptionally well, the team finally managing to get to their coveted fourth place in the championship standings, beating Williams who were running the same engine as they were. Sergio Pérez managed to get on the podium twice, and completed a run of ten points finishes to round out the second half of the year. Nico Hülkenberg wasn't quite so successful, and announced his intention to drive for the works Renault team in 2017, leaving Force India to bring in Esteban Ocon to race alongside Pérez.
Learn more about Force India with the Pocket F1 Handbook.