If there’s one thing to be said about this season, apart from all the negativity and subsequent whining about the negativity, is that it put the spotlight back onto the midfield. While the big guys failed to light things up at the front of the grid, it gave other teams a chance to spark up the show (cue BritishGP craziness) or fizzle out spectacularly (yes, McLaren, I am looking at you) a bit further back.
Then why shouldn’t the ‘Halfway There’ report honour the ‘halfway there’ teams as well? And who is more halfway to success than Sahara Force India: 5th in the world championship and Midfield Ruler of Recent History. So let’s review the half-season in 5 lessons we’ve learned from Force India in 2015:
There’s nothing like being an SFI fan to teach you about resilience
Things aren’t always rosy at the king’s court either (Red Bull should know all about that), so a little sponsor trouble, car delays and missed tests are inevitable storylines lower down the grid. While it wasn’t the best of starts for the season, even for the most clinically optimistic fan out there, there’s always a bright side to look at. In this case, there’s no better example of resilience in the face of adversity – a rather difficult concept to teach. Things don’t always run smoothly and sometimes you don’t reach your full potential right away but working even harder and being able to bounce back defines you just as much as a victory. So there you go kids, be Force India fans, it’s cheaper than a therapist.
The first rule of F1 Fight Club: you can talk about it all you want, just keep it on the track
Or simply put: just keep the darn thing going. Reliability has been a trademark of Force India from the start, with a 7th place and double points finish in Australia, even with a testing disadvantage. Without the nightmare of the literally flying front wing in Hungary and another episode of “Strictly Come Dancing with Pastor Maldonado”, they could have gotten away with only one retirement in half a season. That is an honourable number; maybe if I glue a SFI sticker to it, my car might adhere to those standards too.
You don’t need a dominating car and a cool haircut to get all that precious airtime!
As a general rule, if you’re competitive and reliable in F1, you should get a lot of time on TV. Except you don’t. If you really think about it, we’ve seen more shots of McLaren running into trouble than Mercedes leading at the front. So there must be another secret. And it’s what F1 fans crave most (according to several never-ending polls): close racing. Luckily, that’s something that the midfield offers plenty of. Many of Checo’s battles come to mind and, ironically, some of the racing outside of the points served the best entertainment this half-season. This keeps drivers (somewhat) happy, fans (really) happy and sponsors absolutely elated.
Racing keeps kids off the streets
…and away from a job at McDonalds. I will be forever grateful to Vijay & co for saving these two McLaren and almost-Ferrari refugees (and I say that fondly) and giving them another year of doing what they love most. Whether it’s cricket in Melbourne, cooking in Barcelona, modelling in Monaco or actual racing all over the world, the Force India duo is one that’s impossible to dislike. Well, I’m sure that some of Sergio’s playpen pals might disagree there but we’re loving it. Also, a big thumbs up for letting Nico loose around French fields, few teams would dare to do that so it was basically a victory by extension.
A nose job isn’t always something to be ashamed of (but people will make fun of you)
Now that the B-spec car is finally here, all we could talk about in our superficialness was the ‘reverse Michael Jackson’ nose job on the front of that car. With nostrils the size of fairytale dragons, the car brought some good points home in Silverstone and was looking to a strong result in Hungary before those issues. But the signs are there for a strong and stable second half of the season, polyp-free and waiting for the nose-job jokes to run out. Are Red Bull a whiff too far? We’ll have to wait and see, but the Best Men in Black Impersonation Award is still up for grabs!