The glitz, the glamour, the thrill - Monaco is quintessential Formula One

Driver’s Eye: Sergio Perez

Sergio: “I love everything about Monaco. It’s my favourite track and it’s one of the biggest races of the year. I always try to enjoy the week as much as possible. I try to soak up the special atmosphere and make the most of the opportunity to drive on this amazing circuit. I always feel very lucky to be driving in Monaco.

“The reason I like Monaco so much is because it’s not easy. It’s a massive challenge and it’s always a tough race. Every lap you are under pressure. There is no chance to relax. You need to build up your speed, build your confidence and be careful not to overstep the limit. When the car is working well and you have confidence, it’s the best feeling in the world.

“Qualifying in Monaco is the most important session of the year. I usually say that qualifying is 99% of the weekend because overtaking on Sunday is very difficult – unless it rains. So there is big pressure on the Saturday and it’s not easy to find space in Q1 when all the cars are on track. It can become a lottery. You rely on your team to help you find some space.

“I’ve had some good results in Monaco, especially the podium two years ago. I always enjoy street circuits and I think it’s another good opportunity for us to score points.”


Driver’s Eye: Esteban Ocon

Esteban: “I think everybody loves going to Monaco. It’s just such a special place. When you think of F1, you think of Monaco. Driving on the famous streets in an F1 car was a dream come true and I’m just as excited to go back there this year.

“The location is so spectacular. It’s beautiful and glamorous with an amazing atmosphere. When you arrive at the start of the week you can’t help smiling when you walk down the pit lane and see all the final touches being made.

“The fans can get really close and I think that’s important. It’s definitely the busiest week of the year. All the sponsors want to be there and every night you have events. That’s why it’s great to have the additional day so that you can fit everything in.

“It’s also a true driving challenge. You have to be so precise and there is no room for error. You have to find the limit quickly and be careful not to step over it. Last year I found out the hard way in FP3, but with more experience this year I hope it won’t happen again.”


Vijay Mallya, Team Principal

“Monaco is always a great opportunity to score good points. Both Sergio and Esteban love the track and historically we’ve been competitive on street circuits. You sometimes need the luck to go your way, which didn’t happen last year, but that’s part of the unpredictable challenge of Monaco. The car is getting better with each race. The updates in Spain took us a step forward and there is more to come. After five races it feels like we have some momentum behind us now. It’s also worth remembering that in 2016 after five races we had scored fewer points than we have now [14 vs 18]. It’s a reminder of how quickly things can change in Formula One. There is a long way to go.”


Circuit de Monaco


The upcoming Monaco Grand Prix marks the beginning of the second year of Sahara Force India’s successful partnership with Breast Cancer Care. The team’s cars will once again carry the Breast Cancer Care logo on the top of the chassis at five Grand Prix across the season starting from the Monaco race.

The partnership is on track to achieve and even surpass its £250,000 fundraising target for Breast Cancer Care by December 2020, with £117,013 already raised to support people affected by breast cancer.
The innovative partnership has brought the subject of breast cancer into the Formula One arena and in front of a global audience for the first time. The aim is to continue uniting partners, fans and teams to raise awareness of breast cancer, as well as funds to support the increasing number of men, women and families affected by breast cancer.
The names of four people affected by breast cancer will be printed on the VJM11 car at various races across the season, with the first two appearing in Silverstone, later this summer. Their inspiring stories of strength, hope and unity will be celebrated as part of the partnership.
Alongside various fundraising projects, 2018 will see Sahara Force India and Breast Cancer Care continue to develop strategic fundraising relationships with team partners, such as BWT and Memento Exclusives. There will be further experiential activity at the British Grand Prix and an expanded online auction during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.  Sahara Force India will  continue to donate team merchandise to Breast Cancer Care charity shops, which has generated £2,000 in the first six months alone. 
Otmar Szafnauer, Chief Operating Officer of Sahara Force India: “Our pink identity continues to turn heads and gives us a great opportunity to raise further awareness of Breast Cancer Care. After a year of fundraising in 2017, we will introduce plenty of fresh ideas this year, which will help keep the work of Breast Cancer Care firmly in the spotlight.”
Steve Lucas, Director of Fundraising and Marketing at Breast Cancer Care: “Following a hugely successful first year, we are really excited to be entering the second year of our partnership with Sahara Force India. Through our partnership, we aim to build a breast cancer community within Formula One, which unites fans, teams and partners to support and inspire each other. We offer a platform for people to share their experiences and come together to do something positive for others affected by breast cancer.”

Sahara Force India brought the two-day Barcelona test session to a close with development driver, Nikita Mazepin, in the car. Third driver Nicholas Latifi worked with Pirelli on the development of their 2019 tyre range.

Laps: 112
Best time: 1:18.344
Position: P5 of 13
Mileage: 521km

Nikita Mazepin: “It’s always a pleasure to be in the car and, as always, I have tried to deliver the best job I could in the most professional way. The conditions are very different compared to the last time I drove the VJM11 during the winter. The car feels so much better now and from the first moment I could feel the positive step the team made. I had my reference points from my work in the simulator so it wasn’t all new for me, but it still felt much more consistent and easy to drive compared to pre-season testing. Our programme today included a mix of long and shorter runs working mainly on the softs and hypersoft. We had a small issue in the morning that prevented us from running as much as we would have liked, but we were able to catch up in the afternoon. ”


Tom McCullough, Chief Engineer: “It was good to have Nikita in the car again after his outing in pre-season. It’s always interesting to see a young driver grow with the team and his maiden win in GP3 last weekend showed how much he has developed over the last few years. Nikita was up to speed quickly thanks to his work in the simulator and helped us gather some important data. We had a productive day, even though a hydraulic leak caused us to lose some time after our aero runs in the morning. We were able to repair the car and go back out for two more runs before lunch and we adjusted our plan to make up for lost ground in the afternoon. We managed to complete all our test items, which was very important for the team ahead of Monaco. Looking at both days, it’s been a valuable session that will help us develop the VJM11 even more as the season progresses.”

Sahara Force India’s third driver, Nicholas Latifi, made his debut in the VJM11 in the first day of testing in Barcelona, while George Russell worked with Pirelli to help develop its range of F1 tyres.

Laps: 107
Best time: 1:18.530
Position: P5 of 13
Mileage: 498 km

Nicholas Latifi: “I was really looking forward to my first outing, especially after the disappointment of missing out on pre-season testing [due to illness]. It was a very good first day on track with the team and I finally had the chance to put to practice a lot of the procedures and processes that I had learnt in the simulator. I am pleased with how the day went; we ran smoothly with no big dramas. We completed lots of laps and I couldn’t have asked for a better first day. I am glad I could help the team with their testing programme and I am looking forward to being back in the simulator with this new knowledge of how the car behaves on track.”

Tom McCullough, Chief Engineer: “It was a very solid performance by Nicholas on his first day in the car. Our programme included a series of aero test items with extra instrumentation on the car in the early part of the day, which allowed him to get up to speed with how we operate and with understanding the VJM11. Nicholas settled in well with the team from an operational point of view and was on top of the various switches and procedures straight away after the simulator work he did earlier in the season. We were able to get straight to the various test items and completed the main objectives. It was a good day and a great start to our on-track relationship with Nicholas.”

It was a weekend to remember for the drivers in the Sahara Force India Development squad as Nikita Mazepin and Jehan Daruvala both brought home prestigious silverware.

Racing in Barcelona on his GP3 Series debut, Nikita showed the cool head and skill of a veteran of this category. He qualified within a whisker of pole position and jumped into the lead in Race One, never relinquishing his position and managing his advantage to claim a popular victory and the immediate lead in the championship.

Elsewhere, on the other side of the Franco-Spanish border, Indian rising star Jehan Daruvala made his mark in one of Formula 3’s classic races, the Pau Grand Prix. After a solid qualifying session around the famous street circuit, Jehan produced a great drive in the treacherously soaked Race Three to climb up to third place before the race was suspended due to the poor conditions.

In addition to the success obtained by the Sahara Force India Development Drivers, the Barcelona weekend saw another occasion to celebrate. Mercedes Junior driver George Russell, who will be testing with our team at the Circuit de Catalunya this week, also got to display all his class in the F2 championship, winning the feature race to add to his Round Two success in Baku.

With many drivers within our Development squad only just getting started in their series of choice for 2018, the aim is to keep the momentum going and achieve even more success as the season progresses. We’ll keep an eye on them!

Nikita Mazepin on podium


Jehan Daruvala


Sahara Force India scored two points in today’s Spanish Grand Prix as Sergio Perez raced to ninth place. Esteban Ocon’s day ended early with an oil pressure problem forcing his retirement.

Sergio Perez

P9     Sergio Perez      VJM11-02

Strategy: New Soft (26 laps) – New Medium (14 laps) – Used Soft (24 laps)

Sergio: “It was a tough afternoon but to score two points in these conditions is not a bad result and a decent reward after a difficult race. I made a good start but I had to go wide to avoid the accident with Grosjean and I lost a lot of positions. It really complicated everything for me because it put me behind a lot of other cars. After that we made the right strategy calls, especially pitting under VSC, but then I hit debris from Verstappen’s car and I picked up some damage. I was struggling with a lot of vibrations and I was lucky to make it to the end. It’s good to come home with some points after starting so far back, but it’s a shame about Esteban’s retirement because we could have scored points with both cars today. We have a lot to improve, but I hope we can be much more competitive in Monaco.”


Esteban Ocon

DNF     Esteban Ocon   VJM11-03

Strategy: New Soft (29 laps) – New Medium (10 laps – DNF)

Esteban: “A disappointing day on my side of the garage. We were racing well and looking good for some points. Then things went wrong at my pit stop when there was a problem changing the right rear wheel. We lost about twenty seconds and it put us to the back of the pack. A few laps later I lost power and had to park the car. It looks like an oil pressure problem, but we need to wait until the car is back to know exactly what happened.”


Otmar Szafnauer, Chief Operating Officer

“To come away with two points from such a challenging weekend is a pretty good outcome all things considered. Esteban’s issues today certainly robbed him of the chance to score points, but Sergio drove a strong race making the most of an excellent two-stop strategy. The wheel issue during Esteban’s stop needs to be fully investigated, but we believe some debris from his brake duct caused the problem. The subsequent oil leak ended his race, but we are hoping that there is no damage to the engine.”

Esteban and Sergio eye points in tomorrow's race in Barcelona.

Esteban Ocon

P13       Esteban Ocon              VJM11-03

Q1: 1:18.813
Q2: 1:18.696

Esteban: “I am a bit disappointed about our end result because we didn’t really have the pace we expected. I was happy with how the car was set up and we can see the updates we brought here are working, but we need a little bit more to close the gap with the front of the pack. I am still feeling positive for tomorrow. We are not too far away from the top ten and our race pace is not bad. We need a good start and then we’ll see what we can do. Last year I gained five places from start to finish and I’d be happy to do the same this year.”


Sergio Perez

P15        Sergio Perez                VJM11-02

Q1: 1:18.740
Q2: 1:19.098

Sergio: “It was a disappointing qualifying session. Q1 was okay and the car and tyres were working well, but in Q2 we lost so much performance. It’s really odd because we used the same strategy as we did in Q1, but the tyres behaved totally differently. We could not switch them on and the car was sliding around, which is why my lap was four tenths slower than Q1. I still hope we can fight back tomorrow and come away with some points.”


Otmar Szafnauer, Chief Operating Officer

“For various reasons today’s qualifying session didn’t allow us to deliver the performance we expected. Esteban’s session was clean enough, but we were missing a few tenths of performance needed to progress to Q3. Sergio suffered with tyre warm-up issues in Q2 and complained about a lack of grip, which meant he couldn’t improve on the time he set in Q1. It’s disappointing not to be higher up the grid on this track where grid position is so important, but we will try our best to turn things around in the race. The car looked competitive during the race simulation runs yesterday afternoon so let’s see if we can recover some points tomorrow.”