2015 was a typical Force India Formula One season. In that the team spent half of the season fighting for big points and the ocassional podium, and spent the other half fighting to get out of Q2.
However, unlike past campaigns, the forecast at the season opener in Australia was pessimistic. The car had a few upgrades and was basically the previous year's challenger.
Promised for mid-season was a radical design that would significantly change the team's fortunes. When the VJM08B came, it was certainly radical and change the team's fortunes it did. The reward for Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez was fifth in the constructors, a long held ambition of owner Dr Vijay Mallaya. The biggest highlight was Perez's drive to the podium in Russia.
The team will be looking to push on in the coming season, just over three weeks away and can make this the best season in their history.
Is third in the Constructors a realistic possibility?
Hulkenberg and Perez are regarded as one of the strongest line-ups in the sport, with the German's consistent pace and the Mexican's ability to conserve the sensitive Pirelli tyres make them a formidible partnership who can score big points almost anywhere. With Red Bull expected to struggle with their Power Unit, it could be a straight-forward fight between Force India and Williams for the coveted third place.
With similiar budgets and the same Mercedes Power Unit, whoever develops well and consistently haul big points, could be in a position to capitalise on opportunities that arise.
Looking at how the VJM09 perfromed in the first pre-season test, the team have a strong challenger this year, shown when on Day 3, Hulkenberg was let loose and set one of the fastest times of the week.
2016 is a massive year for Nico Hulkenberg. After his post Le Mans win bump last year, the normal consistency left the German and he didn't get the most out of his strong equipment. Yet to record a podium in the sport, Hulkenberg must address this in 2016, or his high reputation may take a dip and contribute to this big talent not fully reaching his outstanding best.
Sergio Perez has undergone something of a rebirth at Force India. Dumped by McLaren, rather harshly in 2013, Perez has rebuilt his reputation to even more than it was before his move to Woking. His ability to manage the tyres is among the best on the gird and he has delivered two of the team's three ever podiums, at Bahrain 2014 and in Russia. If he can deliever another strong season, keeping hold of the Mexican may prove a challenge.
Their season in one sentence:
In 2016, can Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez ensure that The Force Awakens?