On Lap 40 of the Korean Grand Prix,Romain Grosjean tried to overtake former world champion Lewis Hamilton,even as he had Force Indias Nico Hulkenberg in his rearview mirror. Hamilton fended off by pushing Grosjean wide. This gave the German a narrow window of opportunity and he took the outside line to pull off a stunning double heist.
Hulkenberg finished sixth earning eight valuable points for Force India,helping them close in on Sauber. Yet,Hulkenberg must have gladdened quite a few Sauber hearts too,with the German set to join the Swiss outfit next year.
Where does this leave Force India?
In the increasingly technology-driven sport,drivers,even the talented ones,are second in the pecking order after the machine. Unlike Nascar,theres hardly any emphasis on parity in F1. A Toro Rosso may look like a Red Bull but the gap between them thanks to the engine under the hood is so vast they might as well be competing in different leagues. Which is why Narain Karthikeyans Hispania always seems to be taking a lap or two more than the faster cars. And which is also why Michael Schumacher,who has won more races than any other driver in history,hasnt won a single one in the three years of his second coming.
That is not to suggest drivers dont matter. A Fernando Alonso can still make an off-the-pace Ferrari look unbeatable,but even he hasnt been able to do it that consistently in the last three years.
Moreover,for every Hulkenberg,theres an out-of-job Adrian Sutil or a Jaime Alguersuari hoping to make a return. After all nobody missed Sutil,Force Indias No.1 guy for nearly four years,when he was replaced by Hulkenberg at the start of the season. Sutil went off our minds faster than an F1 car.
Daksh is a Principal Correspondent based in New Delhi