Force India Get Third Double Points Finish at Hockenheim
23 July 2018 | Ravenol Marketing
It was another double points finish in Germany for our Formula One partners Force India, in a dramatic race which saw race leader Sebastian Vettel throw away his Drivers’ Championship hopes after crashing into the wall.
Before the race got underway, RAVENOL’s Motorsport Director Martin Hüning got the opportunity to go onto the starting grid to meet with Force India’s Chief Operating Officer Otmar Szafnauer to receive the official Technical Partnership Certificate, and there were also photo opportunities with both drivers and the car as it was being prepared for the race.
By this time ominous clouds were gathering over the Baden-Württemberg region, threatening to rain, but the sunshine stayed out for the start and all cars got a clean getaway. Sergio “Checo” Perez made his way up to 8th and Esteban Ocon was up into 12th by the end of Lap 2. The pair were then passed by Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo, who had both started out of position lower down the pack. Unfortunately Ricciardo’s sacrifice after having a new engine fitted turned out to be for nothing when he later was forced to pull up with power issues.
Both Force India cars pitted earlier on, giving them track advantage when the other cars in the midfield pitted later. And then on Lap 44, the rain that had been threatening all day finally started falling in the Turn 6 area of the track. Sauber brought Charles Leclerc in to try the Intermediate tyres, and he was followed into the pits by McLaren’s Fernando Alonso, who is known to struggle in wet conditions, and Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly. But whilst the track was clearly slippery in places, it never got damp enough for the “Inters” and a few laps later the cars all had to return to the pits for slicks. Leclerc had been in the top 10 and was left towards the end of the back – a gamble which played well into the hands of the Force India drivers, bumping them up another place.
The track was still slippery going into Lap 51, when Checo was caught out and ended up facing the wrong way momentarily. That should have been a warning to the rest of the field but it wasn’t heeded by race leader Sebastian Vettel, who locked up and sent his Ferrari, and his Championship hopes, flying across the gravel and into the wall. A safety car ensued and there was a mad rush for the pits. This included Ferrari’s other car, driven by Kimi Raikkonen, who had assumed the lead. The two Mercedes didn’t pit, which left Lewis Hamilton at the front for the rest of the race, followed by team mate Valtteri Bottas.
Checo and Esteban were 6th and 7th respectively for the Safety Car period, but were caught out after the restart by Haas driver Romain Grosjean, who had changed his tyres. He managed to pass them both in the remaining laps, so the final positions were 7th for Checo and 8th for Esteban – an amazing drive considering his P14 starting position.
We caught up with Force India’s Drivers’ Eye to hear what the drivers had to say after the race:
“The whole race was very busy and I was always in the middle of the pack fighting the cars around me,” Checo explained. “I had a mega first stint, but we were unlucky with the slow pit stop, which cost us a few seconds. Then, when the rain arrived, it was very tricky and each lap was a new adventure. I spun while I was lapping Leclerc – I don’t think he saw me and I just lost the rear end. To survive all these things and finish seventh is a good achievement.”
“It’s a great result for us after yesterday’s disappointment,” his team mate Esteban added. “The first stint was pretty boring. It’s only after the pit stop, when it started raining, that Sergio and I truly made the difference. We gained a few positions on slicks under the rain and it was really good fun. I had to evaluate the situation lap by lap, based on how much rain I could see on my visor and picking my braking points accordingly, but we never really had any doubt about staying out. To get in the points after a tough Saturday is a great result: we stayed solid, we believed in our strategy and in the end it paid off.”
So that concludes the German Grand Prix at RAVENOL’s partner circuit, the Hockenheimring. Force India are now level on points with rivals Haas with everything to drive for next weekend in Hungary. Don’t forget to check back with us on Thursday for our race preview to see what the next installment of this exciting Formula One season has to offer!