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Force India's Journey in F1 (2008-2018): Cars, Drivers, Stats and more

Force India punched above their weight in Formula 1 for over a decade.
Force India punched above their weight in Formula 1 for over a decade.
George Howson
ANALYST

2019 is the first year of Formula 1 racing since 2007 that won't feature Force India on the grid. Much like one of their previous incarnations Jordan, the Silverstone-based team consistently achieved creditable results despite their small budget. This had won them an army of fans, many seeing them as the classic underdogs in F1.

Here's a summary of the history of Formula 1's only ever Indian team and how they rose from the ashes of Spyker to stand on the podium numerous times is a very impressive feat.


2008 - VJM01

The VJM01 was Force India's first Formula 1 car.
The VJM01 was Force India's first Formula 1 car.

Drivers: Giancarlo Fisichella & Adrian Sutil

Best Qualifying: 12th

Best Finish: 10th

Points Scored: 0 (10th in the Constructor's Standings)

We all know the Chinese proverb "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" and Force India definitely personify that when you compare their first and final cars entered in Formula 1. After Vijay Mallya bought Spyker in 2008, Force India endured a tough first season in F1 with what was the slowest car on the grid after Super Aguri folded part-way through the year.

The team retained Adrian Sutil from Spyker and hired the experienced Giancarlo Fisichella, relying on their drivers to steer clear of danger and out-strategize their opponents with the hope of scoring points. Unfortunately, no top 8 finish would arrive in '08, but they wouldn't have much longer to wait...


2009 - VJM02

2009 was a much better season for Force India, claiming their first podium.
2009 was a much better season for Force India, claiming their first podium.

Drivers: Sutil, Fisichella & Vitantonio Liuzzi

Best Qualifying: 1st

Best Finish: 2nd

Points Scored: 13 (9th in the Constructor's Standings)

It's hard to believe that Force India had never scored a point before the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix, but after the race at Spa, they had 8, thanks to an incredible drive by Fisichella. Fisi also claimed the team's first pole position that weekend and Adrian Sutil would also set Force India's first Fastest Lap in Italy a few weeks later. Fisichella moved to Ferrari mid-way through the season, meaning that Vitantonio Liuzzi would get his chance in the car for the rest of the campaign.

2010 - VJM03

Force India scored points regularly in 2010.
Force India scored points regularly in 2010.

Drivers: Sutil & Liuzzi

Best Qualifying: 4th

Best Finish: 5th (Twice)

Points Scored: 68 (7th in the Constructor's Standings)

While no more podiums came in 2010, the VJM03 was a consistently faster car than its predecessor, scoring points in 12 of that season's 19 races. Adrian Sutil had a very solid campaign which saw him retained for 2011, but Vitantonio Liuzzi was given the boot after the Italian was outscored 47-21 in the points over the course of the year.


2011 - VJM04

DTM Champion Paul di Resta was given his F1 debut by Force India in 2011.
DTM Champion Paul di Resta was given his F1 debut by Force India in 2011.

Drivers: Sutil & Paul di Resta

Best Qualifying: 6th

Best Finish: 6th

Points Scored: 69 (6th in the Constructor's Standings)

Force India were definitely a consistent team in 2010 and 2011, scoring just 1 point more in '11 than '10. On a budget as small as theirs, it's always going to be very difficult to challenge anywhere above the midfield pack, and that showed in 2011. This year was also the one where they'd pick up Nico Hulkenberg, the German becoming the team's test driver.

2012 - VJM05

Nico Hulkenberg became a full-time driver for the team in 2012.
Nico Hulkenberg became a full-time driver for the team in 2012.

Drivers: di Resta & Nico Hulkenberg

Best Qualifying: 6th

Best Finish: 4th

Points Scored: 109 (7th in the Constructor's Standings)

2012 was a lot more competitive season for Formula 1 in general, possibly the closest in terms of the teams' pace ever. 109 points was their highest ever, continuing their year-on-year improvement, but it wasn't enough to match their previous best of 6th in the constructor's standings. They could've won their first race that season too, if Nico Hulkenberg didn't crash into the side of Lewis Hamilton in Brazil, one many "nearly" moments for the team.


2013 - VJM06

di Resta had his final full season of F1 racing with Force India in 2013.
di Resta had his final full season of F1 racing with Force India in 2013.

Drivers: di Resta & Sutil

Best Qualifying: 6th

Best Finish: 4th

Points Scored: 77 (6th in the Constructor's Standings)

Hulkenberg left for Sauber in 2013, but Adrian Sutil returned to his full-time driver role, his sixth and final season with the team. Di Resta got Force India's best result that season -- 4th place in Bahrain -- matching his best result from the previous year. It wasn't enough to retain his place, though, as Force India would change both of their drivers for the new era of Formula 1.

2014 - VJM07

Sergio Perez scored the team's first podium since 2009 at Bahrain in 2014.
Sergio Perez scored the team's first podium since 2009 at Bahrain in 2014.

Drivers: Hulkenberg & Sergio Perez

Best Qualifying: 4th

Best Finish: 3rd

Points Scored: 155 (6th in the Constructor's Standings)

Sergio Perez had a poor year with McLaren in 2013, but the Mexican's switch to Force India for 2014 revitalized his career. Perez scored a sensational podium in Bahrain, thanks to Force India's Mercedes engines, by far the most powerful and reliable on the grid at the start of the new V6-turbo era. Hulkenberg also rejoined SFI, forming a formidable partnership with Perez over the next three seasons.


2015 - VJM08 & VJM08B

The podium still alluded Hulkenberg, but Perez continued to find it in 2015.
The podium still alluded Hulkenberg, but Perez continued to find it in 2015.

Drivers: Hulkenberg & Perez

Best Qualifying: 4th

Best Finish: 3rd

Points Scored: 136 (5th in the Constructor's Standings)

Force India finally improved on their best constructor's finish of sixth place in 2015, despite scoring less points than the previous year. Perez scored another podium this year, avoiding the chaos ahead of him in Russia to cross the line in third place. Hulkenberg outscored Perez in 2014, but couldn't repeat the feat in 2015. This was also the first and only season where they ran a "B car", replacing the VJM08 for their home race in Britain.

2016 - VJM09

Hulkenberg's final season for Force India was in 2016.
Hulkenberg's final season for Force India was in 2016.

Drivers: Hulkenberg & Perez

Best Qualifying: 2nd

Best Finish: 3rd (twice)

Points Scored: 173 (4th in the Constructor's Standings)

"The best of the rest" title is something that's coveted for the Formula 1 midfield and Force India held it for two seasons in a row, beginning in 2016. It was also the only year where the team scored more than one podium, two third places from Perez helping them to a fourth-placed finish in the constructor's championship. Hulkenberg impressively qualified in second place in Austria as well, despite the race going horribly.


2017 - VJM10

Esteban Ocon had a superb debut F1 season in 2017.
Esteban Ocon had a superb debut F1 season in 2017.

Drivers: Esteban Ocon & Perez

Best Qualifying: 3rd

Best Finish: 4th

Points Scored: 187 (4th in the Constructor's Standings)

For the first season since 2013, Force India didn't score any podium in 2017, however, they did rack up more points than ever before. Consistency was the aim of the game in '17 as Mercedes junior Esteban Ocon joined the team for the first of his two seasons in pink and had an impressive debut campaign.

2018 - VJM11

2018 was the final year for Force India, but they went out after an impressive season.
2018 was the final year for Force India, but they went out after an impressive season.

Drivers: Ocon & Perez

Best Qualifying: 3rd

Best Finish: 3rd

Points Scored: 0 (Excluded from the Constructor's Standings post-Belgium)

Force India were the only team from outside the top 3 (Mercedes, Ferrari & Red Bull) to have a driver stand on the podium in 2018, with Sergio Perez once again producing an incredible performance for his second top-three finish in Baku. A battle with Haas and Renault ensued for the 'best of the rest' crown, but Force India's chances were all but over after they went into administration and were thrown out of the constructor's standings as a result. Had they not been disqualified, Force India would've finished in fifth place on 111 points, just behind Renault.

With Lance Stroll joining Racing Point in place of Ocon for 2019, there is some doubt around whether they can emulate Force India, but how do you think they'll get on? Let us know in the comments below!

Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee

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