Sahara Force India F1 Team
8 March 2018 | Brian
Sahara Force India, as the team is now known, was born in late 2007 after Dr Vijay Mallya joined forces with the Mol family, co-owners of the then Spyker team.
The team’s debut in 2008 saw the new operation finish tenth in the championship, creating the basis for a rapid growth over the following seasons. A switch to Mercedes engines in 2009 helped the team clinch its first pole position, points and podium as Giancarlo Fisichella finished second in the Belgian Grand Prix.
The team’s progression was emphasised by seventh place in the constructors’ championship in 2010, a result improved in 2011 as the new driver pairing of Paul Di Resta and Adrian Sutil lifted the outfit to sixth.
2012 saw the team build on these strong foundations: points were scored in 80% of the races in a season that ended on a high note, with Nico Hülkenberg leading 30 laps in the Brazilian Grand Prix.
The team’s point total of 109 set a new record for Sahara Force India.
A wisely-planned pre-season testing period heralded a brilliant start of 2013. A series of double points finishes included a fourth place for Di Resta in Bahrain and fifth place for Sutil on the streets of Monaco. A strong end of the season resulted in the team cementing its sixth position in the standings.
The 2014 season brought many changes. The new pairing of Hülkenberg and Sergio Perez, together with the competitiveness of the VJM07, brought immediate results with Perez ending the team’s five year wait for a podium in his only third race with Sahara Force India. An impressive 10-race run of consecutive points placements ended mid-season, but the year progressed strongly and resulted in 10 double-point finishes: the team shattered the previous points record, amassing an incredible 155 points.
Having retained the driver line-up, 2015 held much promise for the team - and the season did not disappoint: a strong run of form with the b-spec VJM08, debuted at the home Grand Prix in Silverstone, brought one podium, with Perez in Russia, and a string of results that propelled the team to its first ever top five placement in the championship.
Success breeds success; but it also generates expectations and the team started the 2016 season with the pressure to build on its previous results. A series of unlucky circumstances saw the team on the back foot in the first few races, but a podium by Perez in Monaco and a repeat performance in Baku turned the season around for the team. Big results kept coming, with a 4-5 finish in Spa launching Force India to fourth place, where the team would eventually finish the season. The best result in the outfit’s history, compounded with Perez crossing the 100-points barrier, a first for a driver of the team, set a new high point in the rise and rise of Sahara Force India.
Repeating such a high was deemed a big challenge, but it was one to which the team rose up. A new driver line-up, featuring team stalwart Sergio Perez alongside rising talent Esteban Ocon, produced results immediately with a string of point-scoring finishes that would eventually extend to all the season bar one. Brilliant performances by Perez, such as fourth place in Barcelona and fifth in Singapore, and incredible consistency by Ocon ensured the team retained its titles of “best of the rest” and “bang-for-buck world champions”, setting a new team points record with 187.
For 2018, continuity in rules and personnel mean Sahara Force India is ready to continue on its upwards path and, needless to say, we at RAVENOL are proud to have been chosen to be the Official Lubricants Supplier to this successful, dynamic and forward thinking team.