Force India Race Report Brazil
Monday, 12 November 2018 | Ravenol Marketing
Our F1 Technical Partners Racing Point Force India managed to salvage a point from a frustrating weekend in Brazil, culminating in a bizarre incident between Max Verstappen and Esteban Ocon.
Neither of the cars made it into Q3 in qualifying, surprising despite their race pace, and Esteban was further handed a 5 place grid penalty for a gearbox change, leading to him starting from 18th on the grid. This was further compounded at the start when he was overtaken by Lance Stroll’s Williams, though he did manage to make the place back. Further up, Checo was being tailed by both Renaults, but they were more interested in challenging each other and he managed to break away.
Towards the front, Verstappen was starting his aggressive push for the lead, taking out Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastien Vettel on consecutive laps. Whilst the Ferrari’s were napping, he went on to take 2nd off Valtteri Bottas and started to hunt down race leader Lewis Hamilton.
In this time Esteban was surging through the field, taking out Sergey Sirotkin, Brendon Hartley and Fernando Alonso to put himself up into 15th. A few laps later, the Force India driver got another bump up the leaderboard when Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber made contact with Kevin Magnusson’s Haas and he started dropping down the field. This damage was on top of an earlier incident on Lap 1 where he came together with Magnusson’s team mate Romain Grosjean, spilling debris all over the track. Ultimately Ericsson had to retire after he lost so much downforce his car went spinning off across the track.
The Force Indias went long into the first stint and moved up a few more places after everyone else pitted. The reason was the dark clouds gathering around the circuit, but despite a 40% chance of rain, none transpired. The Mercedes’ drivers both came in, leaving Max Verstappen in the lead, but despite his best efforts, he wasn’t able to make the overcut work and came out behind Lewis Hamilton. However, he did manage to overtake him a few laps later under DRS along the home straight, retaking the lead.
The Force Indias finally came in on consecutive laps, with Checo coming back out in 10th once his team mate had come in. Esteban came out behind race leader Verstappen, 2 laps behind, and attempted to unlap himself on fresher tyres. Verstappen however was having none of it and closed the door on him. In a bizarre twist of fate, the two cars went spinning off and Hamilton flashed by, back into the lead, as Verstappen told the team radio exactly what he thought of Esteban. Unfortunately the stewards weighted importance on race position, rather than track position, and Esteban was slapped with a 10 second stop and go penalty.
After serving his penalty Esteban dropped down to 17th, though managed to pass Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin in the closing stages of the race to claw his way back to 15th. Verstappen meanwhile only lost a place, and he soon managed to catch up to Lewis Hamilton again, despite floor damage. He wasn’t able to take the place back though, and Lewis Hamilton went on to win the race, also bringing home the Constructors’ Championship for Mercedes. Checo finished comfortably in 10th, bringing home a much needed point for the Pink Panthers.
Unfortunately Verstappen decided to make his opinions known to Esteban after the race at the weigh in, requiring the FIA officials to separate him, and he was later given community service as a penalty.