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A brief history of Sahara Force India
Adrian Sutil returns to the team to partner Paul Di Resta, recreating the pairing that achieved the team’s best ever Championship position of sixth in 2011. Halfway through the season, James Calado is announced as third driver.
The new VJM06 proves competitive from the start, with Sutil leading the opening race in Australia and the team scoring a double point finish; Di Resta is on form, matching his best-ever result with fourth in Bahrain and scoring in seven in the first eight races, while Sutil goes on a giant-killing mission in Monaco to finish fifth in a race peppered with overtakes. The mid-season point sees dramatic rule changes that affect the car’s performance, but the team bounces back in the last races of the season, scoring crucial points at home in India and in Abu Dhabi to secure sixth place in the Constructors’ Championship.
Nico Hülkenberg gets promoted from his role as reserve driver to join Paul Di Resta, with Formula Renault 3.5 ace Jules Bianchi nominated as team tester.
The season starts positively, Di Resta opening the team’s points tally in Australia and both drivers scoring in the following race in Malaysia; it is a prelude to a positive European season which culminates in double-scoring results in Monaco and Valencia. Hülkenberg is on song in Spa-Francorchamps and records a career-best fourth place, with Di Resta equalling this results two races later in Singapore. In the final race of the season, an inspired performance by Nico in treacherous conditions sees the Sahara Force India VJM05 in the lead for 30 laps before finally settling down in fifth .
The team finishes seventh in the standings but with an impressive points haul and the confidence of being able to challenge the front runners on merit.
Di Resta is confirmed as Adrian Sutil’s team mate for 2011, becoming the third British driver on the grid. Nico Hülkenberg joins as test and reserve driver, having previously raced for Williams. Together they form one of the most exciting line-ups on the grid. The season starts well with points for both cars in Australia, but it is not until the second half of the year that the team really finds its stride. The highlights include a superb sixth place for Sutil in Germany and a double-points finish for the team in Singapore. The team finishes a comfortable sixth in the standings, just four points behind Renault, to sign off Force India’s most successful season to date.
In October 2011, Indian company Sahara India Pariwar, becomes a co-owner of the team with an investment of $US 100 million. The team is renamed Sahara Force India.
In December, Nico Hülkenberg and Paul Di Resta are confirmed as the team’s drivers for the 2012 season.
Sutil and Liuzzi continue as Force India’s race drivers, while talented Scot, Paul Di Resta, joins as test and reserve driver. From the start of the season the cars are both regular top 10 qualifiers and points-scorers. Sutil finishes in the points nine times, with a best of fifth place in both Malaysia and Belgium. He finishes 11th in the World Championship. Liuzzi makes the top 10 on five occasions, highlighted by sixth in Korea. Under the new system the team scores 68 points and moves up to seventh in the World Championship, just a point behind Williams in sixth. Between his DTM commitments with Mercedes, Di Resta gains valuable F1 experience by taking part in eight Friday practice sessions on Grand Prix weekends.
Sutil and Fisichella start the season, and solid car development soon shows Force India’s potential. The team comes close several times before finally securing its first points in style as Fisichella takes a brilliant pole position and finishes second at the Belgian Grand Prix. For the Italian GP Fisichella has the chance to join Scuderia Ferrari, so Liuzzi steps up from the third driver role. He qualifies an encouraging seventh in his first outing at Monza, where Sutil starts a superb second and grabs his first points with a strong drive to fourth. The German also posts the fastest lap of the race. He goes on to qualify a brilliant third on a damp track in Brazil. The team finishes the year in ninth place in the World Championship, having scored 13 points.
Force India makes history in Australia as the first Indian team to contest a round of the FIA Formula One World Championship. Giancarlo Fisichella partners Adrian Sutil, aided by Tonio Liuzzi as test and reserve driver. Adrian runs in a brilliant fourth place in the closing stages of the Monaco GP, only to be hit by Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari. Fisichella earns a season best 10th in Spain, but despite making strong progress the team finishes the year with no points. It also agrees a partnership with McLaren Applied Technologies and Mercedes-Benz for the supply a complete drivetrain for the 2009 season.
The Force India Formula One Team is created as the Orange India Holdings group, led by Dr. Vijay Mallya and Jan and Michiel Mol, purchases the Silverstone-based outfit from Spyker. The deal is formally announced in October.