Force India can no longer 'realistically' catch Renault in F1 2018

Force India believes it can no longer "realistically" hope to catch Renault in the Formula 1 constructors' standings, after suffering its first double retirement in almost two years in France

Force India can no longer 'realistically' catch Renault in F1 2018

Renault scored points with both of its cars for the third successive race in the French Grand Prix, and now has 62 points in the battle for fourth - which puts it 22 ahead of nearest rival McLaren and 34 clear of Force India.

Esteban Ocon was eliminated at Paul Ricard after he was involved in separate first lap incidents with countrymen Romain Grosjean and Pierre Gasly, while Sergio Perez was called into the pits after Mercedes noticed a drop in his engine's water pressure.

That was subsequently traced to a water pump leak, but there was no damage to the actual power unit as the car was stopped in time.

"Realistically the battle now is for fifth place," Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley told Autosport.

"I think it will be very difficult for any of the midfield teams to overtake Renault at this point. Nothing's impossible, but they are very strong.

"They are doing what we were doing last year, when everyone else was taking points off each other.

"We had a good first half of the season with a car that probably didn't deserve to be in the points, but was in the points on a regular basis."

The last time both Force Indias failed to finish was in Austria two years ago, although Perez and then team-mate Nico Hulkenberg had completed enough laps to be classified 17th and 19th.

Prior to that, the last time both cars officially retired was at the Hungaroring in 2015.

"It's disappointing really," said Fernley of the Paul Ricard weekend.

"We didn't have a particularly good Friday. With Esteban's spin in FP1 we lost quite a bit of track time in terms of our long-run programme, then the incident with Checo's lost wheel in FP2 meant both cars had to sit it out until we knew what it was [team chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer suggested it could have been a retaining bolt problem].

"In FP3 it was wet, and we couldn't get the set-up we wanted for qualifying.

"And then the race went from bad to worse. It was a little bit beyond bad luck I think.

"Esteban was hit by Grosjean, and then Gasly. Grosjean just drove straight into him on the pit straight, and did a lot of damage to the side.

"It was a big hit and it was expensive in that we've lost a lot of points.

"Checo was losing water pressure, so we couldn't take a chance.

"Once we knew that it was dropping it was pointless continuing, because the last thing we need to lose is an engine. It's definitely not damaged, it's fine."

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Series Formula 1
Teams Renault F1 Team , Force India
Author Adam Cooper
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