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Nico Hulkenburg 2016 Austrian Grand Prix Practice
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Mid-season report: Force India

The Indian owned and backed squad Force India have been steadily improving over the years and have enjoyed probably their most competitive season so far in 2016.

The team started the year with, like most this season, an evolved version of last years’ machine the VJM08B.  Importantly, they still have Mercedes grunt in the back which has gone a long way to ensuring that they stay competitive.

The team are notorious for being unable to keep up with the relentless development pace – mainly due to lack of funding.  However, Force India has had an excellent level of consistency over the last three years retaining both their drivers and engine suppliers.

In the first few races of the 2016 season, Sergio Perez was getting out-raced by the experienced Nico Hulkenberg.  The Mexican hadn’t got a point on the board in Australia, Bahrain, and China whilst Hulkenberg already had six.

A return to form for Perez, as well as some bad luck for Hulkenberg, saw Perez score in the points consistently for the next five races, even bagging two podium places at the street tracks at Monaco and Azerbaijan.

Hulkenberg was forced out of the Russian Grand Prix after being involved in a first lap collision, and retired early in Spain with an oil leak.  He did however, manage to score points in the next three races during a fruitful European leg of the season.

At Austria, the team suffered their worst race of the season so far with a double retirement.  It was particularly painful for Nico Hulkenberg who had qualified in third place.

The next three races saw the team score regularly in the points – it was only Hungary where both drivers didn’t score after Perez couldn’t quite make it into the top ten.

2016 could be a landmark season for the ex-Jordan, Midland, and Spyker squad.  The car is competitive and at the half-way point, is still scoring points.  The team have Williams in their sights who have struggled for results of late.

But as the development race heats up, the team could find themselves with a target painted on their backs.  Toro Rosso and McLaren are both aiming for fifth place in the standings and have the ability of overhaul the small Indian team.

About Frank Parker

Frank writes regular news and features on both Formula E and F1. Passionate about anything on four wheels, he's an avid fan of grassroots motorsport. A racing track (and the Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough) is his natural habitat

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