When Giancarlo Fisichella took pole and finished second at Spa last weekend, many people reacted as if the Force India VJM02 had suddenly arrived from another planet. Some were convinced that the team (and one or two others who qualified well) got hold of special Bridgestones - Michael Schumacher's comeback tyres was the big joke. A representative of a leading team was even moved to remark that Force India's sudden appearance at the sharp end of the field was bad for F1, which seemed a little disingenuous.
In fact, the performance was a confluence of factors all falling into place. A car that has steadily and quietly been improving hit top form at a track that seemed tailor made for it, while at the same time many of the usual frontrunners totally failed to come to terms with the challenges the place threw up. And a driver who on his day can be quite brilliant - and who had proved it at Spa a few times in the past - was motivated further by the knowledge that the chance of a lifetime within his reach. It was indeed the perfect storm.
It's all too easy to pigeonhole Force India as the tail end Charlie of F1, but that is to forget that there are still many people involved who won races with the team in its Jordan incarnation in 1998-99. There are even more around who helped Fisichella to his amazing Brazilian GP win just six years ago. This is a team that is staffed with good people who can think on their feet and make the most of chances offered, as we've seen with various wet weather runs from Adrian Sutil, or that brilliant call that got Markus Winkelhock to the front at the 'Ring a couple of years ago.
To continue reading this feature, join Autosport Plus today.
Are you an Autosport magazine subscriber? Activate your online account
- Your Autosport Plus membership includes:
- Unlimited access to Autosport's news - no monthly cap.
- Read the best motorsport features, analysis and opinion.
- Explore Forix, our comprehensive motorsport stats database.
- Choose from a monthly or yearly membership.