Can Force India beat Honda at Monza? (2008 Italian Grand Prix preview)

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Adrian Sutil beat Jenson Button and Kazuki Nakajima at Spa
Adrian Sutil beat Jenson Button and Kazuki Nakajima at Spa

The battle at the back of the grid has become closer in recent races with Force India taking the fight to Honda and Williams-Toyota.

Will Monza offer Force India, with their powerful Ferrari engines, a realistic chance of beating Honda, whose engine is believed to be one of the weakest?

Adrian Sutil led Force India?s charge at Spa. He beat Kazuki Nakajima?s Williams in qualifying and in the race passed Nakajima and Honda?s Jenson Button in the dying stages to finish 13th, his best result of the year so far. Force India and Honda’s lap times were quite close at Spa.

The promise of rain this weekend might help their cause: Sutil scored the team’s only point last year at Fuji in the rain (when it was Spyker).

Force India have been boosted by a series of improvements including their seamless shift gearbox, which made its debut at Valencia. The team claimed it was worth 0.3s over a typical lap, and that seems to have been borne out by the gains made to its rivals.

Team boss Vijay Mallya said recently:

Compared to where we were last year, we’re clearly more competitive. We are racing teams with far higher budgets than we have, and beating them on occasion. I have two strong, hungry drivers who have delivered, and I have a very solid basis to build on.

Honda and Williams are realistic targets for Force India over the final races. Both these teams have admitted they are focussing their resources on 2009 in anticipation of the substantially revised rules.

But Force India are not without their problems. Mallya recently admitted there are often differences of opinion between team principal Colin Kolles and technical director Mike Gascoyne.

During the F1 Fanatic qualifying live blogs we often take it for granted that the Force Indias and Hondas will be eliminated in Q1. But could one of the Force Indias finally make it into Q2 this weekend?

And could they beat both the Hondas in the dry? If so, Honda might have taken the mantle of F1?s slowest team.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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10 comments on “Can Force India beat Honda at Monza? (2008 Italian Grand Prix preview)”

  1. You know, I’m kinda hoping that they do. It’s always nice when the underdogs overcome the odds and punch above their weight class, and as far as budgets are concerned, Force India are certainly the underdogs.

    Personally, I find it amazing and embarrassing that a team like Honda who have a budget near on £200 million per annum can be performing so terribly. With the exception of Ross Brawn, (who I hail as the truest examples of a legend having being one of the critical proponents to the success of my favourite F1 team), I have virtually no respect for Honda. Harsh I know but there you go…

    Similarly with the emergence of Toyota as a solid F1 team who are now regularly pulling decent results, I’m of the opinion ‘Well it’s about ****ing time’. With the largest budget in F1, they should be at least in the same league as the front runners.

    I’m not usually so blunt but it think it further shows how much of an accomplishment Force India have made this year. Such a shame the Raikkonen hammered into the back of Sutil in Monaco, that would have been a great achievement.

  2. really hope so, as much as i like button i think i like sutil more, he has potential but is stuck in a poor team.

    at least that new gearbox has put them in the race now, its good to see.

    @Dorian, totally agree, real embarrassment for honda, but i’ve said last year and this year that 2009 will be their year and for their sake i hope so, if they finish last all year again next year i dont expect they will be around too long…

    good to see toyota P4 in the constructors table. 07 and 06 were 6th, so an improvement… partially thanks to nelson piquet who keeps DNFing for renault.

  3. I think if the back end of the car does not overtake the front during the race (which it often has done this year) , then yes , they can.

  4. good point todd, renault would be well ahead if nelsinho could keep it on the track.

    regarding force india, they are the type of team i’d love to see more of in F1.

    but in the midfield, things are relative. i can imagine honda and williams thinking that they had made real improvements on last season, but they’ve quickly found that toyota, red bull, renault and now toro rosso have improved even more and gained a couple of extra tenths in performance.

    its almost luck of the draw really. honda could get luck and find themselves with more success last year, or find that somebody has had more luck and overtaken them.

    but at monza, i don’t think force india will make any significant groud. sutil will probably have a decent race, while fisi will be anonymous as usual. but points? no. beating honda? not in the rain, rubens and jensen will probably benefit more.

    they need to sort out qualifying, if they could get occasionally further up the grid they might have more of a chance.

  5. Angry (albeit, a bit less now)
    11th September 2008, 16:16

    todd – ditto, I really like Button and hate to see him struggling in the Honda. Let’s hope they have a better season next year – like you said, with their budget, they *should*!

    Again, ditto, I’ve got a lot of time for Sutil and FI. Excellent to watch a small team grow and improve.

    Re. Button and Honda – does anyone know if Button has signed his contract yet??

  6. Amazing how Honda has fallen since 2006, and if they didn’t put and end to the Aguri team. They would have been beaten in almost every race. I’ve never seen a team fall so fast and so hard than Honda.

  7. Next year really is going to be the story for Honda. If they can become competitive, Ross holds on to his rep. If not, I don’t you’ll see them in F1 by 2011.

  8. Though not quite linked to this thread, but being an Indian I would love to see an Inidian behind the wheels in FI next season! May be Karun Chandok??

    AndVijay Mallya actually said last week that he wants to give a chance to Karun in FI testing next year.

  9. Nirupam: More on Karun Chandhok here:

    Karun Chandhok (Meet the rookies)

    Afraid the reports are he’s recently turned down a test drive role with the team which might have scuppered his chances. He’s not exactly set the world on fire in GP2.

  10. If the threat of rain is still constant as the weekend continues, could we see Force India (and probably Honda also) put on real rear wings for qualifying and the race?
    Yeah, they might qualify last (as usual). But if it’s wet on Sunday, having some rear traction could put them far ahead while everyone else struggles to tiptoe around Monza with almost no wing.

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