Force India went into administration ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix after an order from the High Court in London. The team was only rescued when a consortium of investors led by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll and including André Desmarais, Jonathan Dudman, John McCaw Jr., Michael de Picciotto, John D. Idol and Silas Chou bought over the assets of Sahara Force India F1 and renamed it as Racing Point UK.
For the purposes of this article, the team will still be referred to as Force India since the new owners will be competing under a new identity in 2019 and the team may or may not be called Racing Point.
Ever since its first season in 2008, Force India has always punched above its weight and financial muscle - especially in the V6 turbo era - with consecutive fourth place finishes (best of the rest) in 2016 and 2017. They have gained a reputation of being a squad of racers and engineers who just can't be kept down for too long.
Just recollect what the team did after the 'slipping into administration' fiasco played out in August 2018. At the first race back - in Spa Francorchamps, Esteban Ocon and Sergio Pérez achieved 3rd and 4th place respectively in a wet qualifying session and finished 6th and 5th in the race, nabbing 18 points which saw them take the 9th place in the Constructors' Championship.
They finished the next race in Monza in 6th and 7th, this time Ocon ahead of Pérez. That helped them jump to 7th in the championship, ahead of Sauber, Toro Rosso and Williams - all teams that had a better budget than them.
Force India were also the only team this season other than Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull to finish on the podium - a feat that Pérez achieved when he came third in a frenetic race in Baku.
If we count their tally for the whole season, they would have ended up with 111 points (59 for the first team and 52 for the new entity formed after the buyout) to end up fifth overall, within touching distance of Renault (122 points). That they did this with the lowest budget on the grid makes the achievement even more admirable.
According to team principal Otmar Szafnauer, Force India were always an update behind this year, tied down by a lack of resources due to boss Vijay Mallya's legal and extradition troubles. The money came in largely through Formula 1's distributed revenues ($70 million), with the rest of the $50 million coming in through sponsors BWT and drive-linked revenues.
With a minimal workforce of 405, and the tightest and lowest budget in the paddock of $120 million, Force India have a brilliant bang for buck figure, earning a point for every $1.08 million spent. In Formula 1 terms, that is frugal and genius at the same time.
Despite being always an update late and a dollar short, the Force India team were remarkable this year, to say the least.Published 27 Dec 2018, 12:32 IST