Force India to sign off 2017 F1 season with more 'experiments' in Abu Dhabi GP
Force India is looking forward to end the 2017 Formula 1 season on a high in this weekend's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but its work towards 2018 season will continue.
Since the summer break, the Indian outfit has been bringing regular updates on the cars, with the last few races focused on parts which can be developed more in 2018.
"Whatever happens in Abu Dhabi this weekend, 2017 has already been our most successful season to date. I can’t stress just how proud I am of our achievements," said team boss Vijay Mallya.
"Claiming fourth place in the World Championship for two consecutive years doesn’t happen by accident and I have to pay tribute to each and every one of the 400 staff who played their part in making it possible.
"With fourth place secure, it’s nice to end the season free from pressure. Of course, the focus is firmly on 2018 and we will continue experimenting with different things on the car this weekend.
"We will also continue running George Russell in Friday practice. We have usually been competitive in Abu Dhabi and it’s important to end the season well before the start of a busy winter finalising a new car for 2018."
After replacing Sergio Perez in Brazil, the Mercedes junior Russell will take Esteban Ocon's seat in Abu Dhabi - with the team also focused on an extended deal for the 2018 season with the young British driver.
Meanwhile, the battle between the teammates will continue at Yas Marina Circuit, with Perez still ahead of Ocon in the drivers' championship by 11 points. Although, it will be a hard task for the Frenchman to overcome his experienced Mexican partner - but it is not impossible.
Looking back at the season Perez feels, fighting with the Top 6 drivers gave him immense pleasure and that he is looking forward for one last fight against the drivers from the top three teams.
"As a team we can be satisfied with our season. Finishing fourth is the best we could achieve and, on a personal level, finishing just behind the top six drivers makes me feel proud. We just need to make sure we deliver this weekend and end the season well," he said.
Meanwhile, Ocon - whose race-finishing streak ended in Brazil - is happy to return to Abu Dhabi where he won the GP3 title in 2015, while also undertook his maiden F1 run during the official FP1 session.
"This season went by so quickly – it’s unbelievable to think we’re already at the final race of the season because it feels like yesterday that we were in Australia. It’s been a successful season and I hope we can finish it in style with a big result," he said.
"I have done so much testing around there and I like the place. The two long straights are good opportunities to overtake: you can use the first to get really close to the car in front and make the move on the second. There are opportunities to shake the order up so the race can be quite exciting."
For the team, which has already crossed its best points haul of 173 from 2016 with the 177 points it has currently - and so reaching the 200 mark is the goal in Abu Dhabi, where it has had five double points finish in eight outings.