The Force India team is confident it can return to the points at this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, having used the summer break to regroup after an incident-filled Hungarian Grand Prix where both new VJM08B cars suffered component failures over the weekend.
Sergio Pérez struck trouble first in the opening practice session where he was upended in a frightening accident in Friday’s opening practice session after a suspension failure. The Mexican was later punted into a spin by Lotus’ Pastor Maldonado during the race and later retired with brake troubles.
Twelve laps before, teammate Nico Hülkenberg triggered a Safety Car interruption when his car suffered a front wing failure on the start/finish straight and slid into the crash barriers.
It was the team’s first double-DNF of the season and a result that now sees the team’s fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship standings under serious threat from Lotus and Scuderia Toro Rosso. Force India has 39 points, four points and eight points clear of its respective rival outfits.
Before its compulsory two-week shutdown between Hungary and Belgium, the team has worked to understand the component failures to avoid a repeat at the upcoming race at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.
“The whole team has worked extremely hard to repair the cars and solve the problems that we encountered in Hungary, and we’re ready to bounce back this weekend in Spa,” team principal Vijay Mallya said ahead of this weekend’s event.
“Although the Hungarian Grand Prix was disappointing, I prefer to focus on the positives, especially the strong pace we showed in the first half of the race. We saw that the VJM08 is capable of running comfortably inside the top 10, which gives us confidence for the second half of the season.”
Hülkenberg was confident that the daunting seven-kilometre circuit would play to the strengths of the B-spec VJM08 chassis, which was introduced at July’s British Grand Prix.
“We go there hoping to bounce back from a tough race in Hungary,” the German added. “The improvements we’ve made to the car will really help us in Spa, especially through the high-speed corners. The engine also plays a big part around the lap. We are competitive and I am confident we can start the second part of the season strongly.”
“The characteristics of the track and its emphasis on power and top speed should suit our car,” teammate Pérez added. “You also have to expect wet weather at some point during the weekend so it could be quite unpredictable. We have shown some good pace in the last few races and we should be in a position to get a good result.
“Spa is an amazing track and I enjoy racing there. The first sector and the run through Eau Rouge feel very special in a Formula One car and it’s definitely a highlight of the year. The track can also produce really good racing because there are a few corners where you have a good chance to overtake.”
Images via XPB Images