The lovable scoundrels
Formula 1 success is not only about money. Forging and keeping the right relationships is also extremely important. Financially, Force India, is not the healthiest Formula 1 team, but it is punching far above its weight on the track. On a budget of 129,700,000 euro (per Business Book GP), the third lowest in Formula 1, the team finished fifth in the championship. The Silverstone-based outfit managed to outscore not only fellow midfielders Sauber, Lotus and Toro Rosso, but also the financial juggernaut McLaren. How did they do it?
By hiring cheap talent
The Force India management has hit the sweet spot in terms of talent recruitment. Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez are promising young talents with solid experience in the sport. Ever since the B-spec of the car was introduced for the team’s home race on Silverstone, both drivers have delivered very solid results. Sergio Perez even managed to snatch a podium finish at the Russian Grand Prix.
Both drivers are indeed very capable, but since none of them is considered an outright star of the sport, their combined salaries are estimated to amount to only 8 million euro. In comparison, McLaren’s budget for driver compensation is believed to be around 45 million euro. That’s a big difference in spending for dog fights at the tail end of the point-scoring positions.
Both drivers are indeed very capable, but since none of them is considered an outright star of the sport, their combined salaries are estimated to amount to only 8 million euro.
By keeping Mercedes close
Force India just finished their seventh season as a Mercedes customer. Their relationship with Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains started just before the Brixworth-based engine supplier’s partnership with its own works team at Brackley did. At the end of the V8 era, some midfield teams decided to change their engine suppliers. Williams moved from Renault to Mercedes, Toro Rosso abandoned Ferrari for Renault. Force India stayed with Mercedes and has been reaping the fruits of the partnership in the hybrid turbo era.
The long-term relationship with the engine suppliers allows the designers in Silverstone to focus their efforts on performance improvements rather than figuring out how to adapt to a new powertrain. Yes, the Mercedes engines are not cheap, but the earnings from finishing at a historic best fifth place in the constructors’ championship are more than covering the expense.
By forging a new partnership with Aston Martin
At the end of the 2015 season, most of the efforts of the Force India management have been focused on completing a long-term agreement with Aston Martin. The partnership is expected to result to the Silverstone-based outfit being rebranded as Aston Martin Racing. The relationship would help the team in attracting luxury and high performance brands as sponsors. The first such sponsorship opportunity appears to be luring Johnnie Walker away from McLaren.
The 2016 Aston Martins are expected to don a blue and gold livery (Johnnie Walker’s colors) and be powered by Mercedes hybrid engines. Daimler AG (Mercedes’s parent company) is a minority shareholder in Aston Martin and is already supplying the British luxury car manufacturer with power plants and electrical systems. Starting a partnership with Aston Martin is a natural extension of Force India’s relationship with Mercedes.