New F1 season

It’s the dawn of a new era – in more ways than one. This is the first time that Formula One has changed the rules to make the cars faster.

The target with these new regulations was to make this generation of F1 cars the quickest in the history of the sport. And looking at the results from testing, we’re well on the way to achieving that. It’s something that’s never been done before and that’s a radical change.

“Having spoken to the drivers, these machines are violent – just like Formula One cars should be. I have been out on track watching them and, next to the previous generation of cars, these are properly spectacular cars. From a fan perspective – and a part of me will always be a fan – it really is something special. Any true motorsport lover simply has to see them in the flesh,” said Mercedes-Benz Motorsport’s Head, Toto Wolff.

“We have tackled with determination the challenge of the new regulations. We have been very successful over the last three years through stable rules – but no team has ever maintained its success over such a big regulation change before. In a way, it’s just what the doctor ordered. To have such a challenge is good for the team.”

Melbourne is a temporary street circuit and, as such, there are compromises to be made in the set-up of the car. It’s a circuit that is traditionally hard on brakes, but the biggest challenge will be optimising the tyres.

Adds Sahara Force India’s Team Principal, Dr Vijay Mallya: “I always say that Melbourne is a great place to start the season and this year there is so much to be excited about with the new generation of cars making their race debut. It’s interesting for the teams, the media and most importantly, the fans. Let’s hope we put on a great show to kick off the season in style.”

Well, Sahara’s organised

Nico Hulkenberg

Nico Hulkenberg

 

While everyone continues to party down Abu Dhabi way, Sahara Force confirmed its fourth place finish in the constructors’ championship today as Nico Hulkenberg ended his final race for the team in seventh place, just ahead of team mate Sergio Perez in eighth.

Nico Hülkenberg
Tyre strategy: Used UltraSoft (8 laps) – New Soft (18 laps) – New Soft (29 laps)
“It was quite a simple and lonely race actually, mainly racing with my teammate because the top six cars were just out of reach. Turn one was quite interesting because I got hit by Max (Verstappen), which damaged the floor of my car and made things a bit more difficult.

“Fortunately we had the pace to hold position and bring home the result. It’s great to end my time at Force India with a strong result and help the team finish fourth in the championship. Everybody deserves congratulations and big credit for the amazing job this year. I leave this team with lots of happy memories and Force India will always be a part of my life. I’ve learned a huge amount here and they have made me a better racing driver. We’ve grown up together and I’m proud of what we have achieved.”

Sergio Perez
Tyre strategy: Used UltraSoft (9 laps) – New Soft (18 laps) – New Soft (28 laps)
“I am pleased with my race. I finished where I started and it was a quiet race for most of it, but it got a bit tense in the final laps when I had to fend off Felipe (Massa).

“I pushed really hard at the beginning of my stints, trying to close the gap to Nico, but in the end I finished just behind him. It was great to finish the season with some points and to end an incredible year with a good result. Now that the season is over, I will go back to Mexico and enjoy some rest.

“It’s been a long and intense year and I am looking forward to some downtime with friends and family. They’re going to be happy holidays, thinking about what we have achieved this year. I’ll chill out a bit and then it’s back to work for 2017!”

Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal
“To end the season with two cars solidly inside the points and with fourth place in the constructors’ championship feels fantastic. It has been a tremendous year for us and it’s important to pay tribute to each and every member of the team for all their hard work and hours of dedication back at base and at the track. All the effort has paid off and we can now celebrate the best ever year in our history.

“Both drivers did a super job today, as they have done all year long. It’s great that Nico could end his time with us on a high note and we thank him for everything he has done for us during his five years as a Force India driver. He’s been a big part of our journey up the grid and it has been a pleasure working with him.

“Credit to Sergio, as well, who becomes the first Force India driver to cross the 100 points in a season milestone. He’s been exceptional this year and fully deserves to finish seventh in the drivers’ championship.”

 

Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez finishes fourth

Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez

 

Sahara Force India scored 18 points in today’s Brazilian Grand Prix with Sergio Perez racing to fourth place ahead of Nico Hulkenberg in seventh.

Sergio Perez: “What a fun but tense race today! It’s a shame to lose a podium place in the last two laps, but Max (Verstappen) just had a different pace: he was the fastest on track and there was nothing I could do to keep him behind.

“Even though I am a bit disappointed, we can still celebrate a great race and an incredible result, especially considering the conditions we had out there today. Just getting to the finish line on a day like this feels like a victory, and to bring home fourth is a very important result. It was so easy to make mistakes; you risked aquaplaning at any moment – every time I crossed the finish line I had a breath of relief. It’s a big result, not only for me, but also for the team as it brings us important points for the battle for fourth place. A lot can still happen in Abu Dhabi, but we can be happy about this result.”

Nico Hülkenberg: “That was an intense race and I don’t know whether to laugh or cry because I think a possible podium slipped away today. I had great confidence in the car, felt comfortable and I had the pace to push and overtake. There were some scary moments in the race, especially when Kimi crashed in front of me. Some of his debris hit my car and caused a lot of damage. At least I survived that, but then I picked up a puncture from the debris, which was so frustrating because it dropped me down to the back of the field.

“Without the puncture, who knows where I might have finished? I’m happy and proud of myself and the team. We did a great job, but we were just missing a bit of luck.”

Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal: “What an exciting race! To come away with 18 points from such a challenging race is a fantastic reward for an excellent job by the entire team. Both drivers didn’t put a wheel wrong and the decisions from the pit wall were spot on. Sergio came within a whisker of another podium and thoroughly deserved fourth place.

“For Nico to recover from the puncture to finish seventh showed his class once again and made us all wonder what might have been because he was running in fourth when the puncture struck. With such difficult track conditions, just getting both cars to the finish is a victory and to have both in the points takes us a good step closer to achieving fourth place in the constructors’ championship.”

 

Nico Hulkenberg

Nico Hulkenberg

Poor old Sergio

Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez

 

Sahara Force India scored seven points in today’s Mexican Grand Prix as Nico Hulkenberg raced to seventh place ahead of Sergio Perez in tenth.

First crack to Sergio. It was his home Grand Prix after all: “Even though I scored a point today, it was a very frustrating race being stuck behind the Williams cars and unable to overtake. I tried everything I could, but it’s not easy because they had a straight-line speed advantage.

“There were a few occasions when I was very close to making the move stick on Felipe (Massa) but in the end it just wasn’t possible. I think maybe we could have tried something different with the strategy because we underestimated the effect of the medium tyre, which turned out to have much more life than we expected.

“So perhaps we could have pitted earlier and run longer on the medium. That’s something we need to analyse and understand if it would have made a difference to our result. Even with the tenth place today the fans were cheering for me. They are so loyal; always behind me and they have given me so much positive energy all week. Although I wanted to give them a better result, this has still been the most enjoyable race of the year.”

Nico Hulkenberg: “Definitely not a bad effort today and the best result we could hope for in regular circumstances. I made a great start, but once the pit stops were out of the way, it turned out to be quite a lonely afternoon for me. This allowed me to manage my tyres and my pace. At the end, the battle with Kimi (Raikkonen) was always going to be difficult, because he had a massive tyre advantage over me: I was surprised we could keep him behind for so long.

“I tried to defend as hard as I could on the inside, but braking on a dirty line with 60-lap-old tyres is quite tricky! He turned in on me and there was no way I could stop the car, so I forced it into a spin to avoid a crash. In the end, it was a good weekend: qualifying was my highlight and we’ve come away with a solid result today. We leave Mexico having strengthened our fourth place in the constructors’ championship, so there is plenty to smile about tonight.”

Nico Hulkenberg to leave Sahara Force India

Nico Hulkenberg will leave the team at the end of the season to pursue other opportunities within Formula One. His last race with Force India will be in Abu Dhabi next month.

Vijay Mallya, Team Principal and Managing Director: “Everybody at Sahara Force India wishes Nico well as he embarks upon a different path in Formula One.

“Having spent five years with us, Nico has become a great friend and contributed a huge amount to the team’s success. He’s an outstanding driver, who has scored more points for this team than anybody else.

“While it’s true we will miss Nico, we respect his decision to explore fresh opportunities and it would be wrong to stand in his way.”

Japanese GP post race: Force India

Sergio Perez on the drivers parade.

Sergio Perez on the drivers parade.

 

Sahara Force India scored 10 points in today’s Japanese Grand Prix as Sergio Perez raced to seventh place ahead of Nico Hulkenberg in eighth.

Sergio Perez: “I enjoyed myself today and I feel we made all the right decisions during the race. The start was good fun – I had a clean run going into turn one and ended up in third place. I tried my best to hold on to the position, but I knew it would be difficult to keep some very quick cars behind me so I needed to be sensible and choose my battles.

“Our car was very quick today and the two-stop strategy was definitely the correct one for us. It meant we needed to overtake the Williams cars on the track because they were on a different strategy, but fortunately I could make the moves on them very quickly. The end of the race, after all the pit stops, was just a case of looking after the tyres and keeping out of trouble.

“We scored some very useful points today – we need to keep doing the same in the final four races.”

Nico Hülkenberg: “I am quite happy with my race: seventh would have been possible, but I paid the price of not having an ideal qualifying session yesterday. I had a good first lap, but when you start from the back of the top ten, you have a lot more traffic to deal with and that cost me some time.

“The pass on Valtteri (Bottas) was the highlight of my race. I had lined up a pass the lap before, but didn’t get a good exit from the final corner and I missed out in turn one; so I told myself ‘if I can’t get you here, I’ll get you at the chicane instead’. I pulled the move off nicely; it was a close wheel-to-wheel battle.

“It was important to finish with two cars well inside the points, but we know every race and every point will count from here onwards because the battle in the championship will go down to the final race. It’s going to be good fun and it’s a nice challenge.”

Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal: “We leave Japan feeling satisfied with our performance across the whole weekend. We qualified well, which allowed us to execute the optimal two-stop strategy with both cars. Seventh and eighth was the most we could realistically hope to achieve given the reliability of the cars at the front of the field, so it’s rewarding to bring home ten important points.

“It was very enjoyable watching Checo and Nico involved in several close fights in the early laps. They pulled off some exciting moves – which were very important because they enabled the strategy to play out in our favour. With four races to go, we must maximise our potential at every event because there’s still a long way to the end of the season.”

 

Nico Hulkenberg.

Nico Hülkenberg.

Abu Dhabi GP post race: Sahara Force India

Nico Hulkenberg

Nico Hulkenberg

 

Sahara Force India ended its season with a strong showing and 16 points as Sergio Perez raced to fifth place ahead of Nico Hulkenberg in seventh at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

P5 Sergio Perez VJM08-02
Strategy: Used SuperSofts (6 laps) – New Softs (21 laps) – New Softs (28 laps):
“It feels great to end the season with a strong performance and I’m very satisfied with how everything has gone this weekend – both in qualifying and the race. We pushed hard to try and beat Vettel today, but he had too much pace on the supersofts and it wasn’t possible to hold him back. The rest of the race was straightforward for me, with no big dramas, because I was on my own looking after the tyres. When I was running fourth I was pushing very hard to stay within Vettel’s pit window, which took a lot from my tyres and meant that Ricciardo was able to get close to me at the end of the race. Fortunately I had enough left to hold him off. I think we got the maximum that was available to us and we can be proud of our performance. Looking back on the whole season it’s been my best year in Formula One and the most successful year for the team. There is a lot of potential for next season and we will be aiming even higher.”

P7 Nico Hulkenberg VJM08-03
Strategy: Used SuperSofts (7 laps) – New Softs (17 laps) – New Softs (31 laps):
“The race was a bit of a struggle at times, and I had a hard job on my hands. The start was pretty good – everyone went to the inside so I stuck to the outside. It was a brave move and I was able to make up a few places. However, I had a lot of understeer and it was difficult to get the car to turn in, especially at a track with so many tight corners, so I suffered in the first two stints. The final part of the race was a bit better and I was able to get into a rhythm, which was important to keep our position. It was a tough race so it was a really good result to come home with seventh place. It’s been a good season for the team and we will be aiming to build on it over the winter months. From a personal point of view, it hasn’t been one of my best years but it gives me an opportunity to learn from what happened and come back stronger. I am already looking forward to 2016 and working hard to make sure we are competitive from the first race of the season”

Otmar Szafnauer, Chief Operating Officer:
“We end the season with a strong result and 16 world championship points – the most we’ve scored at any race this season. The strong result is the ideal way to conclude the most successful season in the team’s history. The car has been working very well here and the team has done a fantastic job to deliver our most competitive performance of the year in terms of outright pace. Today’s result shows just how much progress we have made this season and gives me confidence ahead of 2016. The second part of the season is testament to the hard work of everyone in the team and highlights the upward direction the team has followed in the last few years. We will celebrate this year’s results, but we know we cannot rest on our laurels: we’re already at work on our 2016 cars to pick up where we left off tonight and be competitive from the start of next year’s championship.”

 

Sergio Perez

Sergio Perez

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