A team with no winning pedigree, bogged by financial problems and known more for its part-owner’s flashy parties than performance, has sculpted a mid-season turnaround that’s really incredible.
One can hardly recall in recent memory anything parallel to what Force India has managed. After 29 races without a single point, the team now has 13 from the last two. Suddenly Vijay Mallya’s statements, which appeared so outlandish earlier, have gained credence through performance.
After all, the car has reportedly made a leap of about 1.3 seconds since the season’s beginning.
A radical 0.7-second edge coming from the aero upgrades at Valencia and Spa has seen it leapfrog to the top as, right from beginning of this season, the F1 grid has been separated by just over a second.
The pivot to this development is the technical partnership that the team forged with McLaren last year.
The crucial cog in the whole deal is McLaren engineer Simon Roberts, who has been attached to Mallya’s team as Chief Operating Officer. The Mercedes engine that was part of the agreement has emerged as the powerplant with extra grunt and is now being tapped, as Force India’s engineers have finally figured out the aerodynamics component.
While McLaren itself seems to be struggling, the backbencher has now moved up to rub shoulders with those who were earlier in an altogether other class.
Motorsports pundits are still sceptical about how the team will perform in warmer conditions and circuits that demand more mechanical grip - both of which will significantly contribute towards tyre wear.
But then, Mallya has now proved that his operation has the ability to use significantly lower resources than the bigger outfits and still come out ahead.
Though the F1 paddock churns out rumours almost as fast as its cars, the buzz has it, that buoyed by the success, Mallya is also looking to gain complete control by buying out the Mol stake.
Force India is finally beginning to walk the talk of its flamboyant Indian stakeholder. Whether the team manages to maintain the momentum or not, will decide its overall credibility in F1 circles.
For now though, it’s time for all of us who doubted its potential to eat crow.
To make mine more palatable I’ll dunk it in some Kingfisher beer.