Although this post is a little late due to me being away when it happened, Force India became the penultimate team (discounting Scuderia Toro Rosso) to unveil their new car to the media, the new owner and sponsors influencing the choice of Mumbai in India for the launch. The car has received an updated livery, as well as new sponsors and a hopefully improved chassis. The team continue to use customer Ferrari engines, the deal not due to expire until 2010, and with Giancarlo Fisichella partnering Adrian Sutil, 2008 could be a good year if everything goes according to plan.
The team have continued to build their own chassis, unlike their direct competition on the grid, Super Aguri and STR, who have used derivatives of the Honda and Red Bull cars respectively in the past. While that may put Force India on the back foot, it does mean the team are well within the rules and affords the team independence in their decision making.
The new car is largely the same as that driven in the final races of 2007, although modified to fit with new regulations regarding electronic devices and head restraints. However, while the car may be similar on the outside the team have been busy developing what they have and improving it little by little over the winter. According to new owner Vijay Mallya, they have already started work on the VJM02, the team’s 2009 machine. This implies that 2008 will another transition year for the team formerly known as Spyker, formerly known as Midland, formerly known as Jordan, although spirits are naturally high and Fisichella thinks they can at least move off the back row by the close of play in November.
This is a huge challenging task of performance improvement and becoming competitive. This is the only sport that I know of where even a fraction of a second is the difference between a wining or losing position. It is exhilarating, challenging and satisfying to be part of a movement where competition is truly at its pinnacle. Vijay Mallya.
Mallya, through his ownership of several companies, most notably Kingfisher whose name adorns an airline and alcoholic beverage brands, has earmarked $120m for the teams first year of competition. Although tiny in comparison to Ferrari and Toyota, the team have always managed to run on a small budget, and looking at the success of Super Aguri last year, as well as the competitiveness of STR towards the end of the 2007 season just shows that money is not necessarily everything if all the puzzle pieces fit together well.
The budget is adequate, there’s the structure, and the right people. The 2009 car is already under development. I want to grow with this team and to carry on racing in F1 for a few more years. Giancarlo Fisichella.
Just how well, or even for how long Force India will be around is anyone’s guess; following the Midland and Spyker history, I refuse to hold my breath. But suffice to say Formula One is on the verge of becoming India’s second sport, with a grand prix on the horizon and a developing economy. Combined with an awful lot of potential fans to reach out to, Force India really could become a Ferrari of the future. But undoubtedly it will take many years of hard work, dedication, failures and successes before anything like that can happen. For now, let’s just hope Mallya sticks at it and Eddie Jordan’s old squad can retain a name long enough for the employees to receive a P60 and the end of the tax year.
Photographs Of The VJM01
Images courtesy of Force India.