To read the half season review of SFI & NK clickhere.
Sahara Force India:
The first half of the season saw the team starting on the slower side as they had in 2011. But points wise, they had a better start considering the previous years. Just before the season break, Andrew Green had stated that they shifted their focus to 2013 car and there won’t be much updates in the second half. The second half saw a different all together as the team was in a different world matching the top teams in terms of point finishes. Yes, in the second half the team finished every race in points, a record which only 4 other teams could manage. Only thing they could feel a disappointed with is no podium finishes for them specially in Brazil where even a win was possible.
The highlight was surely Brazil in the second half as Hulkenberg lead the race for about 30 laps beating the McLaren’s but unfortunate tale of events meant they ended P5, team’s second best finish of the season. It was sure shot win or at least a podium finish but it wasn’t to be. Spa & Singapore gave the team their best finishes of the season with P4 on both occasions, Hulkenberg in former & Di Resta in the later. As for qualifying, the team made it to Q3 quite regularly in the second half. Di Resta equalled the best position of P4 for the team (though got a penalty and moved down). Reliability wise the team continued their brilliant run. They had only two DNF’s, both due to accidents rather than mechanical error. As everybody else, they also started learning the aspects of Prielli tyres and got the better of it as the season progressed towards the end. The team scored 109 points, their best haul of points but they finished P7 which was one place down from 2011.
Hulkenberg was the driver to look for in the second half after a slow start at the season start. He finished 6 races in points out of the 9 races and was on the verge of giving the team their first win. He also got his best finish of his career in Spa i.e P4. I was very impressed with him, he drove some fantastic races and his move over Grosjean & Hamilton was one of the best move I have seen. It was brilliant to see him fight with the top teams for positions. To outperform his team mate is the first thing a driver looks to do and to beat a driver like Di Resta, was a good to see. He ended P11 in DC with 63 points, just 3 points shy of Perez who we know got 2 podium finishes. Although next year we won’t see him in the team as he moves to Sauber, a very big loss to the team considering the form he was in.
Di Resta continued his good performance from the first half and looked pretty good at the start of the second half. But post Singapore there was big dip in form as he scored only once in 6 races. We could see a similar thing as we saw in 2011 with his form, but cannot say if there is a pattern. In few of the races he was unlucky as well, like in Brazil he was well in course to score solid points but in the penultimate lap he crashed out. Overall, he did a good job as he ended P14 with 46 points beating Pastor who had a win in his belt. It seems like he will very much stay for next year and I see getting podium finishes, we saw him driving superbly in Bahrain, Singapore.
Jules Bianchi got 3 more drives adding to 6 drives in the first half. He was also behind the wheel for one day in the Young Driver testing. I must say, he did pretty well in the 3 tests in the second half as his times improved a bit. It was down to him getting accustomed to the car a bit more. Think that young driver test helped him a lot to understand the car well. We are still to know if he gets a drive in 2013 or he remains the test driver of the team.
Overall the team can be satisfied with their efforts in 2012, they were the most consistent point scores throughout the season. Only missed on the potential podium finishes which was a disappointing. Both drivers gave their 200% and drove some excellent races. The team at factory and in race weekend worked very hard as well as we saw that the reliability was top notch. Even the pit stops were quick, they even won the Sky Sports award of fastest pit stop in one of the races. Things looking very good for 2013 season surely.
Narain had ended the mid season with a DNF and it was ironic that he started it with a DNF in Spa. His first half was better with only 3 DNF’s in 10 races whereas in second half he had 4 DNF’s in 9 races. We cannot blame him for that as his car wasn’t the best of the lot and he did face many reliability problems. Then again both him & Pedro the very best they could but with little upgrades and lack of funding, the team had nowhere to go. For Narain, it was mostly his teammate to fight with as the Marussia’s had stepped up a bit pace wise.
In the end, Narain ended P24 in the DC with a best finish of P15 for himself and the team as a whole which is commendable against his teammate Pedro. Narain towards the end also managed to out qualify his teammate in few of the races. The passion, determination was always there but he simply didn’t have the car to show it. Missing vital FP1’s may also have affected his run but then it’s all part of the contract. Overall, he can be satisfied with doing whole of the F1 season. His future remains doubtful with HRT not being named in the 2013 entry list. Getting back to US will his priority surely now.