Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley expects rivals McLaren and Renault to up their game considerably and pose a serious threat to his squad in the 2018 F1 season.
Both McLaren and Renault should perform much better this year than they did in 2017. The latter even managed to snatch sixth place in the constructors’ championship during the final race in Abu Dhabi, when Nico Hulkenberg beat both Force India drivers.
“Both Renault and McLaren look quite handy,” Fernley said in an interview with Autosport. “They are a significant threat and we need to take it seriously. We need to do quite a bit of work ourselves to make sure that we accommodate that. There will be no quarter given to those three cars. The three teams will be locked into a massive battle.”
Force India finished 4th in the constructors’ championship last year, despite having one of the smallest budgets on the grid, at roughly £90 million ($127 million). On the other hand, Renault and McLaren, despite their much bigger budgets, at £150 million ($213 million) and £185 million ($262 million) respectively, really struggled in 2017.
“It’ll always be difficult to compete against the bigger budgets, but saying that, we’ve done it for two years in a row so there’s no reason why we can’t do it for a third,” said Fernley.
He also acknowledges that there will again likely be a gap between the top three teams (namely Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull) and the rest of the field, but added that now “there will be three teams going for fourth place.”