Force India team principal Bob Fernley has paid tribute to the Sahara Force India team as it confirmed its fourth place finish in the constructors' standings at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

In a landmark year for the Silverstone-based team, Force India exceeded its previous best of fifth place - achieved in 2015 - by emerging as the consistent 'best of the rest' team behind the better funded Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari teams.

Getting the better of Williams with superior results during the second-half of the season, Force India's end-of-year points' total of 173 points was a substantial improvement on its 136 points total from last year.

Indeed, Force India's achievement is made all the more impressive given it managed just 14 points from the opening five rounds before getting at least one of its cars into the top ten in all but one of the remaining races.

Coming as Nico Hulkenberg bids farewell to the team after three seasons, Fernley is proud of Force India's rise from backmarker to F1's leading privateer team.

"To end the season with two cars solidly inside the points and with fourth place in the constructors' championship feels fantastic. It has been a tremendous year for us and it's important to pay tribute to each and every member of the team for all their hard work and hours of dedication back at base and at the track. All the effort has paid off and we can now celebrate the best ever year in our history.

"It's great that Nico could end his time with us on a high note and we thank him for everything he has done for us during his five years as a Force India driver. He's been a big part of our journey up the grid and it has been a pleasure working with him.

"Credit to Sergio, as well, who becomes the first Force India driver to cross the 100 points in a season milestone (103 points). He's been exceptional this year and fully deserves to finish seventh in the drivers' championship."

Force India has retained Sergio Perez for the 2017 season, with Mercedes junior Esteban Ocon joining him in place of Renault-bound Hulkenberg.

Formerly the Jordan team before evolving into Midland and then Spyker, Force India emerged in 2008 and competed in 29 races before scoring its first points, a historic second place finish for Giancarlo Fisichella in the Belgian Grand Prix.

Since then the team has gone from strength-to-strength, reaching the top five for the first time in 2015 before progressing to fourth this year. To date it has scored five podiums, four of which have come in the last two seasons.

POINTS: The 2016 Drivers & Constructors World Championship standings!

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