Heartbreak at the Hungaroring for Struggling Force India

Sunday, 29 July 2018  |  Ravenol Marketing

Sergio Perez in the Force India VJM11 Pink Panther at Hungaroring

A difficult qualifying session, seeing both drivers going out in Q1, pretty much mirrored the difficulties Force India were facing this weekend, amid the uncertainty following the announcement that the team had gone into administration.

Starting from 17th and 18th, there wasn’t much Esteban and Checo could do, but that didn’t stop them pushing hard at a circuit that clearly didn’t favour the Pink Panthers. They both got a good start and immediately made up a couple of places each. Then after Checo had a slight coming together with Charles Leclerc a few corners later, the Sauber driver was forced to pull over with a mechanical issues, promoting the Force India drivers to 14th and 15th.

A lap later, Daniel Ricciardo, who had also struggled in qualifying, pulled up alongside them in his faster Red Bull and made short work of their progress as he surged his way up through the midfield. But the pair got another boost later on when his team mate, Max Verstappen, was also forced to pull over, this time with a power issue.

For a while, the only action on track was Ricciardo making up places, showing off his overtaking skills at a track where passing is supposed to be difficult. Then there was another retirement, as Vandoorne was forced to pull his McLaren off the track following a gearbox issue, which led to a Virtual Safety Car period. Mercedes bluffed the Ferraris, but none of the front runners seemed interested in new boots. The only driver who did come in was Nico Hulkenberg, who then quickly set about after the two Pink Panthers on the restart. He managed to get past Checo, but couldn’t quite keep up with Estaban.

Up near the front, Sebastian Vettel was getting increasingly frustrated behind the slower Valtteri Bottas and made his move, but Bottas came back at him immediately. The two came together on the next corner, and Mercedes front wing pieces went spilling across the kerb. Vettel was quickly followed by team mate Raikkonen, but when Ricciardo finally arrived on the scene, Bottas understeered into him, and the result was more Mercedes wing pieces on the coloured tarmac. To add insult to injury, Bottas was then asked by his team mate to give the place to Ricciardo, which he reluctantly did.

Meanwhile further back, Hulkenberg finally found his way past Esteban, so it ended in 13th for Esteban, and 14th for Perez. Hungary ended the run of double points finishes for Force India before the teams shut down for the summer break, but no doubt the team – however they’re called when racing resumes at the end of August and whoever sits beneath the yellow camera – will be back and stronger than ever. We’ll see you again in Spa.