TJ13 reader Parth Sharma is from India and is a fan of Formula 1 thanks to Force India. Today he writes some words about the team and his passion.
Force India needs to remember these fans, and shouldn’t forget them going into their new era.
The Judge 13.
GOODBYE FORCE INDIA, IT WAS NICE HAVING YOU
So before starting lets get somethings out of the way. I am an Indian, and at the same time a die-hard fan of Mclaren. But as an Indian, who in terms of Formula 1 has only 2 drivers, namely Narine “The Cucumber” Karthikeyen and Karun Chandhok. Force India was a team that gave us Indians something to look forward to. No matter that it was owned by a crook and he never really invested in that team after 2012.
Force India lasted for a decade. The decade was full of ups and downs. Even though I was never their ardent fan, to me they just were other team on the grid. But my heart really filled up with the joy when they did well. I was 10 when Force India was launched, the video of launch was later posted on Youtube. In those days, In India Internet connection through broadband was very expensive.
My elder brother was a big fan of Formula 1. We had a data limit on the broadband, and we watched a 3 minutes video of the unveiling of the Force India car, and the logo of the team which had Indian flag colors. Even though I would not become a fan of Formula 1 till 2012, I still vividly remember the qualifying day of 2009 Belgian Grand Prix. Force India had a nearly anonymous season in 2008 at the back of the field, except for the Monaco GP (where points were a possibility, but Adrian Sutil was hit by a certain defending champion in the name of Kimi Raikkonen thus ending any hope for the points).
2009 was the year when Force India changed their livery to the color of Indian Tricolor flag (Yay!). Anyway the car they produced were mostly fighting in the lower midfield. While the other minnows in the form of Brawn GP were having their Leicester city moment, Force India had to wait till Belgian GP to have their moment. On the fateful day, Giancarlo Fishichella qualified on the pole.
Don’t know what got into that car or what was the technical aspect but on the low downforce circuits that car was flying. The newspaper of the saturday who never cared about a team existed in Formula 1 that was registered in India, on their front page had a picture of Fishichella scoring the pole.
The treatment was repeated the next day, when he scored a podium. Oh boy, what a way to score those first points, through a pole and a podium. They would repeat their heroics again in Italy with Sutil qualifying 2nd and finishing 4th in the race. The boys from Silverstone were on the scene and in the following years they did fight the midfield battles, especially with the likes of Sauber, Williams and to an certain extent Mercedes of those days.
There are many memorable moments that stand out for this team. I started watching F1 regularly in 2012. And man that was a season that can get anyone hooked to this sport (Revisiting that season is for some other time) but anyway, I cheered for Mclaren whole of the season, it was heartbreaking for me to watch them lose race wins through botched pit-stops and reliability.
As a Indian Kid, I do kept a watch out for our minnows. And trust me, there were moments when it became heartbreaking to see them close to and still not get any podiums. Spa 2012, where Hulkenberg finished 4th , Singapore, where Di Resta finished 4th and the most heartbreaking of them all was 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix, where victory was in touching distance. Force India over the period of 4 years (2010-2014) would finish 7th , 6th , 7th and 6th.
The podium drought for the team would end in 2014, in the hands of Sergio Perez who over the period of next 4 years would score 4 more podiums. Force India continued to do well in the midfield and scoring consistently. They would on tight budgets produce cars that were competitive and were driven by decent drivers who would take advantage of the package they have to score consistently.
The whole point of this article is to pay a tribute to a team, that was driven by racing passion. Yes it was owned by someone who didn’t have best of the reputations in India and always under-funded the team. But this small team from Silverstone, borrowing wind tunnel from Toyota, using a previous year chassis or paying creditors late then promised always turned up to a race track and raced to their best of ability.
Their never give up attitude was something that was so cheerful to see. It went over many changes through the years. With it losing the Indian tricolor, nearly going bankrupt twice or thrice before actually going bankrupt etc.
But one thing Force India maintained was consistency, In the same period of 2011 to 2018, while Force India hovered around the 4th to 7th in Constructors, we say Williams who from scoring 5 points in 2011 and 2013, scored a race win, score multiple podiums in 2014 and 2015 go through such a downward spiral ending up last in 2018.
The pesky little team led by Andy Green on a tight budget always produced a decent car. In a decade from now, Force India would be a distant memory staying in the memory of those who watched it but for us Indians and Formula 1 fans, it was an great example of a small guy taking on the tough guys and for that bow out in style. It has been an eventful decade and Force India certainly delivered in entertainment value.