Force India Mexican Grand Prix Race Report
Monday, 29 October 2018 | Ravenol Marketing
It wasn’t the best weekend for our F1 Technical Partners Force India, with local hero Sergio “Checo” Perez retiring from the race with a brake issue, whilst Esteban Ocon came home in 11th, just outside the points places. It was however a great weekend for Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, who was crowned the 2018 Formula One World Champion, despite finishing in 4th off the podium.
Credit of the day however went to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who got past his team mate Daniel Ricciardo on pole and then led to the end of the race to take victory, well ahead of the Ferrari’s, whilst the Mercedes really struggled with their tyres.
Whilst Checo got a decent start and made a couple of places up, it immediately started going wrong for Esteban when he got tangled up with Nico Hulkenberg, losing a section of front wing which hairily flew into Fernando Alonso’s McLaren, lodging there. Alonso proudly carried his very own piece of Pink Panther wedged in the McLaren’s cooling duct for a few more laps before being forced to retire, presumably with an overheating engine. Esteban meanwhile had pitted for a new nose, dropping him down to the back of the field.
Less than a quarter of the way into the race, the Super Soft tyres, chosen by Pirelli as the hardest option available due to the relatively low downforce, were already starting to grain on some cars and many teams were forced to change from a 1-stop to a 2-stop strategy. The Force Indias were doing well to manage their tyres though, and Checo continued to work his way up the field, before he got stuck in a train of other cars, all with DRS on each other but unable to overtake as their engines were overheating and couldn’t get enough air to turn the fuel into power.
As the other teams around them were forced into the pits with worn tyres, Checo and Esteban’s perfect tyre management allowed them to focus on team strategy. Then as Carlos Sainz was forced to pull his Renault over to the side of the track, they finally got the break they needed when a virtual Safety Car was announced. They both came into the pits and back out into decent positions, with Checo running in the points in 9th, and Esteban down in 16th, but with a chance to make up more positions when other teams took their 2nd pit stop.
Checo immediately set off after Charles Leclerc and gave the fans some excitement as the two of them battled it out, leapfrogging each other as they were lapped by Daniel Ricciardo. Checo finally made the move stick, and Esteban managed to get past Lance Stroll for 15th. Once a few others stopped, he was up into 12th, with a double points finish looking feasible.
Then disaster. Without warning Checo had to slow down with a pedal issue and the team had to make space in the garage for him to retire the car. Esteban also had a coming together with Brendon Hartley and lost another front wing piece, although this time the carbon fibre dangling off Hartley’s Toro Rosso was his own bargeboard. Esteban stayed out, but the loss of downforce from the damaged aeros affected his ability to chase after his rivals.
Meanwhile there were more disasters up front – as Sebastian Vettel was challenging Daniel Ricciardo for 2nd, suddenly there was a puff off smoke out the back of the Red Bull, followed by a cloud as he was forced to pull over with a 2nd consecutive mechanical failure. But 2nd wasn’t enough to stop Lewis Hamilton taking the Drivers’ Championship – far behind, protected by team mate Valtteri Bottas, the Brit was coasting to preserve his tyres.
Esteban battled on with his damaged car and worked his way up to 11th by the end of the race, just outside of the points positions. So nothing to show for weekend 2 in the Americas. We’ll join you in a couple of weeks time when the fight resumes again at Interlagos, Brazil.