Having kept a low profile all winter, Force India finally showed their hand on Monday morning as Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon pulled the covers off their vivid 2018 challenger, the VJM11, in the Barcelona pit lane. The Silverstone-based team, who have a proud reputation for punching above their weight, have finished fourth in the constructors’ standings in each of the last two seasons.
However, repeating the trick – or going better – in 2018 will be no easy feat, with the likes of Renault, Williams and a revived McLaren all vying for position in what promises to be an extremely competitive field.
An evolution of its predecessor, the Mercedes-powered VJM11 features tighter sidepods and an updated pink livery for 2018. As part of the launch, the lack of Force India branding on the team kit was notable as the team weighs up a potential name change.Force India unveils 2018 F1 car at Barcelona. (Image: Force India)
Perez and Ocon were extremely closely-matched during 2017, leading to a number of incidents during the season, but chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer expects a more productive partnership between the team mates this year.
“We will, of course, remind them [of their responsibilities], but not really sit down and talk to them,” Szafnauer said. “You’ll remember after we clinched fourth place, we allowed them to race again with the same rules that we had before we said no more racing and they performed admirably.
“So I think just a reminder and I think they’ve come into their own maturity - Checo as a father and Esteban having more than doubled his experience in Formula 1 - they understand, and they will act accordingly for the good of the team, which is ultimately for the good of themselves too.
And Szafnauer is also confident Force India are set to see Perez close to reaching his peak in the coming season, with Ocon only entering his second full year of racing in F1.