That Force India are second after three races in the constructors championships behind only Mercedes in the 2014 Formula One season says a lot but doesn’t convey all. They are ahead of, among others, McLaren, Red Bull, Ferrari, Williams and Lotus. These names have among them 44 constructors titles out of 53 given since 1958.
But this is a bit like saying, after seven Tests Vinod Kambli had a batting average of 113.28, more than Don Bradman.
To give proper context, Force India need to be compared with themselves. With 44 points in three races, they haven’t had it this good at this stage of a season since they came into existence in 2008.
In their first year, they had zero points after three races and were 11th in the standings. The corresponding figures from 2009-13 are: 0 and 10th, 18 and 6th, 4 and 8th, 9 and 8th, and 10 and 6th.
Clearly things have changed. The primary reason is the engine. After two seasons with Ferrari initially, Force India switched to Mercedes and improved noticeably. It should be noted that it was with Ferrari that Force India took their first and only previous podium finish, at Spa in 2009 — coming at the back of a freak two-race run.
With Mercedes however, they have been steady, if not super fast. The emphasis now was on reliability as they consolidated their position in the middle — above the struggling outfits but below the achievers.
It all seems to have come together this season as not only they have a powerful beast under the hood, they also have able hands behind the wheel. Their new recruits Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez are among the finest young drivers on the grid.
But how long can they maintain this start? Can Force India finish the season in the top three, the ultimate podium finish for a team that hasn’t had too many in the past?
It’s going to be difficult for a mid table team to hold off the big name for far too long, admits Hulkenberg. But he adds the marquee teams cannot get better overnight. Force India, therefore, have a clear window of opportunity. They must make the most of it.
(Daksh is a special correspondent based in New Delhi)
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