Force India: Yeah, we should have swapped places in Canada

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Otmar Szafnauer (USA) Sahara Force India F1 Chief Operating Officer. Malaysian Grand Prix, Friday 22nd March 2013. Sepang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Hindsight is often times 20/20 and it seems after contemplating the Canadian Grand Prix strategy call for a week has given Force India time to second guess their tactics. At the time of the closing ceremonies of the race, the team were adamant that they did the right thing. Fair enough.

After thinking about it a day or so, they (Bob Fernley) admitted that they may have to re-think the way they make team strategy int eh future. Fair enough.

After a week of consideration and editorials in the press about sating sponsorship investment and always going for the podium when the opportunity presents itself, team COO Otmar Szafnauer says that in hindsight, they should have swapped the cars and much earlier than they even started discussing it in the race.

“Hindsight is a wonderful thing because you have more information,” he said.

“What I would have done is perhaps swap them earlier – just after the Ferraris pitted. Do it then and it is easy.

“You can get your tyres back up to temperature and there is no risk from behind.

“Then, if it doesn’t happen, you still have time to swap back.

“We didn’t do that, we started discussing it a bit late and then after it was too late.”

To be fair, it’s not the first time Force India has seen a potential podium so I don’t want to beat them up for the call. If you listened to our podcasts from a couple of years ago, you’ll recall that we suggested that Williams needs to start making strategy calls that actually represent their performance and very likelihood of a potential podium, not as a team running mid-field. 

Like Williams back then, I think Force India are a little pleased, if not surprised, to find themselves in that enviable position and perhaps their race strategy hasn’t been including podium scenarios but it should…just like Williams back then. 

It took Williams a few races to say, wait a tick, we’re real contenders and we have hte pace to possible podium in races so we need to re-think our strategy and really try to make the steps of a podium. The good news is, they did make the right adjustment and were rewarded for doing so. I think Force India will as well. 

Let’s be fair to the team, this is a group of folks that are punching above their weight and doing so with an chaotic owner situation with Vijay Mallya. The pressure they’ve endured since 2008 has been immense and I can’t credit Bob Fernley and Ottmar enough for holding this team together and finding the resources and pace to be as competitive as they have been. This team is a real success story in F1 despite the controversy and shenanigans that Mallya has offered with his debt issues in India. 

Autosport has an interesting quote from Mercedes about what they feel Force India should have done and its an interesting read so be sure to check it out. They were tracking the strategy of Force India as well and have some interesting insight too. 

Hat Tip: Autosport

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25 Comments on "Force India: Yeah, we should have swapped places in Canada"

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jakobusvdl
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jakobusvdl
Interesting to hear a different view out of F.I, also that the strategic discussion was around tyre temperature not around driver sponsor budget. Surprising that Szafnaur concludes he doesn’t think Ocon would have passed Ricciardo, is that F.I still trying to avoid controversy? While saying “Ocon would definitely have passed Ricciardo” would be more supportive of Ocon and F.I’s capabilities, it would reinforce the view that Perez cost F.I a podium. The Mercedes strategist alternative is an interesting one, it sounds more like a strategy that would have beneficial to Mercedes than something that would have clearly be the best… Read more »
Formerly Known As
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Formerly Known As

Vowles says that with Perez as buffer, “It leaves Esteban trying to attack Ricciardo for that P3”. Is an Ocon podium really more beneficial to Mercedes than to Force India? Doubtful.

I think Vettel would still have finished 4th with his pace anyway. He drove an incredible race. It was the squabbling and the dithering that did the two FI drivers in. I’m sure they now wished they had Vowles in their garage. They could have gotten a podium. It looks like Otmar agrees, as well.

jakobusvdl
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jakobusvdl

The Vowles strategy would have let Ocon have a go at Ricciardo, on fresher tyres,which we would all like to have seen. And would have put Perez on fresher tyres to defend against Raikonnen and Vettel, and possibly have got back in a position to attack Ocon/Ricciardo. Those would have made Vettel’s charge harder.
You may be right, and Vettel may still have made it through to fourth, but it would have been a different and, I think, more difficult.

Formerly Known As
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Formerly Known As
And as Vowles stated, “That would have generated a good opportunity for Force India.” I think that it is really absurd to think that Vowles, a top level strategist from one of the most successful F1 teams today, is sitting at his comfy office chair, seething at the fact that Vettel got 4th because it hurt Hamilton’s title bid, as some Hamilton obsessed fan around here, (and I don’t mean you), would like us to believe. I’m pretty sure Vowles’ concern in Montreal was the best possible result for his team and that is exactly what he got, a 1… Read more »
Salvu Borg
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Salvu Borg

A loaded dog, best described as being a scratched record.

Formerly Known As
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Formerly Known As

When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.

Salvu Borg
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Salvu Borg

repeating the same things, AD NAUSIUM, introvert, chatty kathy or chatterbox, a rambler.

Formerly Known As
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Formerly Known As

Pot. Kettle. Black.

Salvu Borg
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Salvu Borg

I am not black, are you the pot or the kettle?, and “formerly known as” what?.

Formerly Known As
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Formerly Known As

“Mark is too slow! Get him out of the way!’

“I cannot and will never stomach a driver asking for such things regarding his team mate. ”

How about them principles? Have you found them yet? Maybe it’s in the sweater that Sebastian knitted for you.

Comedy gold. 10 years running.

Salvu Borg
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Salvu Borg

Now now what are you blabbering about chatty kathy? I asked two questions!

Formerly Known As
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Formerly Known As

…said the man without principles.

Gold, I tell you! Gold!

Salvu Borg
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Salvu Borg

The difference would have been an advantage of between 2 and 4 points for number 44. these people can consider themselves very lucky number 5 just missed-out on a podium after their main competition was eliminated at start of race.

Formerly Known As
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Formerly Known As

I sense the disappointment, hence your projection.

I know you’re still upset that Ferrari, AGAIN, screwed up Vettel’s podium and you must have been doubly disappointed that Vettel didn’t come first or second, as was predicted. You can consider yourself very lucky though that Vettel came 4th. At least, you can keep pretending to celebrate the great result of a just-missed-out-on-a-podium drive.

And yes, Mercedes was so disappointed that they came home 1st and 2nd and all they could think of was Vettel missing the podium.

Painful, I know. It’s so funny, it hurts.

Salvu Borg
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Salvu Borg

just a chatterbox repeating the same lines Ad Nausium.

Formerly Known As
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Formerly Known As

Since I have reduced you to a name-calling, insult-hurling, fact and principle free individual, as a courtesy to the owner of this blog, NC, I will stop responding to you in this article because you are just clogging it with nonsensical blabbing as a means to deflect.

Besides, there’s only room for one buffoon in this article and you are doing such an amazing job at it.

Catch you in another thread.

Salvu Borg
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Salvu Borg
Yes always interesting to hear different view ‘He doesn’t think Ocon would have passed Ricciardo”, and that was exactly what I told myself during the race when Ocon was “ASKING” his pit wall to tell his team mate to let him through, my first reaction was, what sort of driver will ask his pit wall to tell his team mate to let him through?. Who doubts Mercedes intentions re what Force India should have done?. James Vowels would have liked the more experienced of the two Force India drivers to have acted as a “BUFFER” FOR THE FERRARI. (ONLY THAT… Read more »
jakobusvdl
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jakobusvdl

I can think of a few drivers who have asked to be let past their ‘slower’ team mate, Bottas vs Massa, Verstappen vs Kyvat, Hamilton vs Rosberg, Alonso vs Massa, Alonso vs Raikonnen, and probably a fair few more if we put our minds to it.
To me that makes sense, in a team environment, why would the ‘quicker’ car degrade their tyres, brakes, overheat the car, and take risks to pass a team mate, when a call to the team should let them through and on their way to start attacking the real opponents.

Salvu Borg
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Salvu Borg
Yes, I certainly haven’t missed them, not a single one, forget some could be, and also yes, there will be more, no doubt. Every time that happened/happens my stomach starts churning-up and I shout to myself, “How the f*** DOES A DRIVER (a man) GETS HIMSELF TO ASK SUCH THINGS openly on the radio when racing his team mate?. every driver knows that his pit wall knows exactly, most probably more then he himself what is going on, so unless they decide on that line of action, which is a right of theirs, I cannot and will never stomach a… Read more »
jakobusvdl
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jakobusvdl

It sounds like Malta must have a very macho culture.
I don’t feel that it harms my respect for a driver if he tries to pressure his team into making a decision that might favor him. Most F1 drivers are very confident and assertive, but, they are also very very opportunistic. Thats probably a reason teams need rules of engagement and team orders.

Salvu Borg
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Salvu Borg

A confident and assertive and also opportunistic driver will make a pass, make it stick and not beg his team to order his team mate to let him pass. we have very recently seen such examples both against team mate and others.

jakobusvdl
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jakobusvdl

True, but you’re missing the bit about that meaning the team is using up the capabilities of the car fighting the team mate, not the other teams. Also we’ve seen several incidents where team mates have taken each other out trying assertive but risky moves.
I feel a monty python quote coming on, are you a devotee of the mighty python?

Formerly Known As
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Formerly Known As

I see the longest running comedy show starring Salvu Borg is still going strong. You even work weekends and holidays.

I hope you don’t mean Sebastian “Mark is too slow! Get him out of the way!” Vettel.

Keep the jokes coming.

Formerly Known As
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Formerly Known As
Comedy gold from Salvu Borg. Open weekends and holidays. The longest comedy show on the internet. 10 years running. A F1 writer stating a fact that the squabbling pink cars allowed Vettel to reel them in and pass them to claim 4th place just means that the writer actually understood that had they not been bickering, Vettel would only have passed one Force India instead of two because one would probably have passed a Redbull on his way to a podium. And common sense should then tell you that had Ocon passed Ricciardo, Vettel surely had the pace to take… Read more »
Salvu Borg
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Salvu Borg
So after all or most of the dust that had been kicked-up started to settle down it turns-up that both Perez and Fernley were correct in stating that no direct team orders were issued regardless of the interpretations of the pit-to-car/car-to-pit radio transcripts. they at Force India left their top driver call the shots as they always did. it now seems that Perez had convinced his pit-wall otherwise to their line of thinking. it was just another day for them. When FERRARI pitted Kimi (something which I still cannot fully understand why) they started a chain reaction which both Force… Read more »