Force India were forced to drop Adrian Sutil following him being charged with grievous bodily harm against Eric Lux, CEO of Genii capital, following an altercation in a Chinese Night Club in which Lux had his throat slit by Sutil who threw a champagne glass at him.
And so, they kept Paul di Resta and promoted Nico Hulkenberg, their 2011 reserve driver, to the frontline. The renewed pairing made their way to the season-opener in Australia and Paul di Resta repeated his 2011 result, finishing 10th while his team-mate was the cause of an accident at the first corner when he shunted Jean-Eric Vergne into local-boy Mark Webber. Both cars made it into the points in Malaysia when di Resta finished 7th and Hulkenberg finished 9th. China saw the team finishing in a less than impressive 12th and 15th for di Resta and Hulkenberg respectively.
Bahrain saw massive controversy. The race was held following the deaths of several civilians while the country was involved in an uprising against the Bahraini government. A civilian was killed just days before the Grand Prix, by state soldiers, and Force India refused to attend the race. However, Bernie Ecclestone was having none of it and threatened to take legal action, as the team had a contract to be at all the races. So the team were reluctantly sent to the race where they were caught up in an attack.
While local protesters threw petrol bombs at Police, the Force India car was involved the four Force India members were sent home. This happened after dark and to make sure that they would be back at the hotel before dark, and to protest the race, Force India didn’t run in FP2 in Bahrain. As a result, FOM didn’t show them once during the entire Qualifying session as punishment. It was a huge mess. At the end of the weekend, Force India had secured 6th for di Resta and 12th for Hulkenberg.
In spain, di Resta finished in a poor 14th place while Nico Hulkenberg did a fantastic job of holding back Mark Webber on his way to finishing 10th. Both drivers made several places up in the Monaco Grand Prix to take the chequered flag with di Resta in 7th leading Hulkenberg in 8th.
The two lined up in the same formation at the end of the Canadian Grand Prix when di Resta finished 11th, Hulkenberg 12th. Both Force India’s looked fairly strong in Valencia while Nico Hulkenberg finished 5th which was his best F1 finish, di Resta finishing 7th.
Di Resta qualified 11th at his home race in Silverstone but there was disappointment when contact with Raikkonen left him careering off the circuit at the start of the race and eventually retiring the car after changing tyre’s due to a puncture. Hulkenberg finished out of the points when he recorded 12th in the race. It was Hulkenberg’s turn to race at home two weeks later at Hockenheim and he qualified 5th before dropping to 9th in the race. Di Resta finished 11th. He finished 12th in Hungary which was bettered by his team-mate in 11th.
Both cars avoided the chaos at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix and Hulkenberg recorded his best race finish, 4th, while di Resta finished further down the grid in 10th place. In Italy, Senna and di Resta were fighting for position and di Resta forced Senna wide off the track, but was not penalised. He finished in 8th compared to Hulkenberg’s 21st, due to retiring the car with two laps left in the race.
Singapore was a mixed day for the team. Di Resta finished in a career-best 4th place while Hulkenberg was hit by Kamui Kobayashi and a puncture which left him down in 14th, although he did set the fastest lap of the race. Hulkenberg finished 7th in Suzuka while di Resta finished 12th.
Just before the Indian Grand Prix, an arrest warrant was issued for Vijay Mallya after his cheques bounced. However the warrant was withdrawn before India and he made it to his home race. The Force India’s were seemingly the only two not in the wars and they managed to make it to 12th for di Resta and 8th for Hulkenberg, at their team-owners home race.
Nico Hulkenberg was the cause of a first corner crash involving di Resta, Senna and Grosjean. Di Resta was forced to pit for repairs while Hulkenberg retired on the spot. Di Resta later recovered to finish 9th. In Austin, di Resta finished in a lowly 15th place with Hulkenberg making it to 8th.
Brazil is possibly one of Force India’s most memorable races. They seemingly pulled a good qualifying out of nowhere after Practice and in the race, Nico Hulkenberg took the lead of the race. Not only did he take the lead of the race, but he was dominantly leading from Jenson Button who is usually the fastest in the changeable conditions. He was doing fantastic until he slid and Hamilton passed him. However, near the end of the race he caught Hamilton and passed him into T1. The wet conditions caught him out though and he slid into Hamilton’s McLaren, sending the Brit out of the race.
Hulkenberg was given a drive-through for causing the incident, which was severely harsh, as nobody didn’t have an incident in that race. What was surely a race win turned into a 5th place for the German. Meanwhile, his team-mate was unimpressive outside of the points and he crashed heavily on the penultimate lap, bringing out a safety car for the end of the race, and the season.
What could have been the best day in Force India’s history, turned into a heart-breaking one.
Hulkenberg also announced that he will be at Sauber for 2013 while it’s not yet been announced who will partner di Resta at Force India.
Season in a Paragraph:
Force India started off on an ok note and raised respect for themselves when they tried as hard as they could to stand up for what they thought was right, trying to be exempt from coming to Bahrain. They seemed set for a podium several times in the season, at races like Valencia, Singapore and Brazil. Brazil truly was a lost opportunity for the team at the hands of a far too harsh stewards decision. It is truly surprising that they are the only team apart from the three back-markers and the Toro Rosso’s, to not make an appearence on the podium. Expect a race win in 2013.