Force India had looked off the pace in Austria in practice and qualifying, but Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez kept their noses clean when it mattered to bring home a double-points finish. It was a morale-boosting result, and one they expect will keep their middle-order rivals on their toes…
The Silverstone-based team, who have finished fourth in the constructors’ championship in the last two years, are once again among the teams fighting for the ‘best of the rest’ mantle behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull this season.
However, they have encountered fierce competition to defend that position in 2018, with Renault currently occupying P4 while Haas and McLaren have progressed in terms of position this year too.
And after securing sixth place in Spielberg, while his team mate finished one place behind him – the first time both pink challengers have finished in the top ten this season – Ocon is expecting the battle to go right down to the wire.
“Yeah, I mean those guys [Haas] were quick today,” he said. “We’ll get them another time. I was quite happy for the team. The result today, sixth and seventh, and a good understanding as well with Checo [Perez] towards the end on a different strategy.
"We couldn’t get [Magnussen] at the end but we will keep pushing at the next races. It’s definitely [a huge result]. The gap in the middle championship in the constructors' table is close. The fight is on and it will last all season.”
Force India opted not to pit under the early Virtual Safety Car (VSC) – introduced when Valtteri Bottas retired from the race – but ran longer first stints and made that strategy work in style.
“It feels good,” added Perez. “It’s a massive result for the team. We outscored Renault so definitely a good day. I think the management with the tyres was very good. The team did a really good job.
“We were a bit concerned because we didn’t box under the VSC. All in all it’s been a fantastic day. Looking forward, we are expecting some upgrades for Silverstone or Hungary.