The VJM02 represents a radical departure from the design ethos of its predecessor, the VJM01. This year's contender will incorporate a Mercedes-Benz V8 engine and McLaren gearbox, thanks to a new partnership forged in November 2008 between McLaren, Mercedes and Silverstone-based Force India. Fundamental changes in the technical regulations, meanwhile, have led to a major overhaul of aerodynamics, the optional addition of KERS and a compulsory return to ungrooved 'slick' Bridgestone Potenza tyres.
Dr Vijay Mallya, chairman and team principal of Force India, is confident this year's challenger will be the one to bring increased success to his young team after a frustrating points-free debut season, 'To be brutally honest, I would not be happy if we didn't show some much improved, and much needed, performance this season.
'What we really set out to do over the winter was to put in place structures, procedures and partnerships that would give improvement, but crucially, no excuses. By using the same drivetrain as another team, Force India now has a high-level benchmark of its own performance. If performance relative to McLaren - the 2008 championship winning team - is low, there are only a reduced number of variables that need to be analysed and understood.'
Dr Mallya's aspirations are resolutely clear: 'I would like to see a strong start, rising to points mid-season and a definite improvement in qualifying. Regular points finishes should be the aim.'
The VJM02 has been designed in-house at the team's ÚK facility by a tight-knit unit led by design director Mark Smith and technical director James Key, who have in turn been supported by a small team spear-headed by 2009 project leader Ian Hall.
In addition to the various challenges in interpreting a brand new set of technical regulations, the team has also condensed its development into just five months: the period between the McLaren deal being signed in November and the start of the season. It's been no mean feat to get everything ready, particularly with the team not turning a wheel between its last test in November and the debut of the new car - almost 100 days.
Design director Mark Smith explains the challenge the team has faced, 'When we confirmed the partnership on 10 November 2008 we had to adapt our plans fairly significantly. It's not just a case of getting the new parts and installing them; when we changed the gearbox, it had slightly different suspension mountings and when we changed the rear suspension there was a necessary change on the front.
'Normally you would have started in August, so we have had to compress everything into five months. Everyone has really worked hard to make it work and we've got a potentially better package, so the change has been a positive rather than a negative.'
Source - Force India
Engine : 2.4 L., 8-cylinder
This year, Dr Mallya will be hoping the positives far outweigh those negatives: 'This is the year we have to deliver. We are not here to make up the numbers, I want to be pushing all the way.'
James Key Q&A: ‘I think we are pretty encouraged'
Following last week's initial test in Jerez, Force India moved to Barcelona this week, where Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil aim to put further miles on the VJM02 as the team prepares for the first race in Australia. We asked technical director James Key for an update on how the test programme is going. Q: What is the plan for the Barcelona test this week?
‘To carry on from where we left off in Jerez and get as much running in as we can. We hope that the weather will be good, and we are able to continue the programme we started in Jerez, namely to get into a flow of set-up changes and directions. We need to learn more about the tyres and we've got a few new bits to put on the car as well. We are starting a bit later, so we've had to compress our programme a bit.'Q: What are your first impressions of where you stand?
‘One thing that strikes me is how close everyone seems to be. No one is streets ahead, and no one is miles behind. It's impossible to know what other people are doing, but we've run very honest fuel levels. I'm sure a lot of people are keeping their cards pretty close to their chest at the moment!'Q: Were you satisfied with the way things went in Jerez last week?
‘As always with a new car we had a few little issues to deal with. Although it gave us some down time, we found solutions to the issues we had, so that was the positive thing. In terms of the running we did do, the drivers were very happy. Fisi ran the first day and felt the car was a good step, that the stability was improved, and the balance more consistent, which is something we kept a careful eye on with this car. It responds to changes in the way that we expect it to, and when he hit the track Fisi was immediately in the 1m21s, which for a first run in low grip conditions was good. I think we were pretty encouraged. It's a good platform to develop from.'Q: What are the priorities this week?
‘We still have to get a better understanding of the slick tyres, because they are quite different to what we're used to. There are a lot of nuances in getting them to work quickly and giving them an easier time over a long run. There's still a lot of work to do, but initial signs are fairly good.'
Q: Jerez was your first chance to work with the Mercedes engine and McLaren gearbox. How is that going?
‘The guys are excellent to work with. With new suppliers you've got new procedures, and in Jerez we needed to make sure the cooling worked as this is one of the things with a new engine. The Mercedes is very good, there's no doubt about that. It went fairly smoothly and the gearbox ran fine. It did what we hoped it would do, and the drivers were very happy.'Q: Adrian in particular mentioned tyre graining issues in Jerez. Is that something that's inherent in the 2009 package?
Q: How did things go in the wet, bearing in mind there's less downforce this year?
‘To a certain extent it is inherent in the tyres. The prime and the option are two quite different tyres. One has a low working range and it comes in quickly, the other is high working range, and is a bit more durable. So there are two strategies; I think the softer low working range tyres will grain, and you've got to manage them to a certain extent. I think it's the same for everyone. Some of Adrian's concerns were because we are still at a very early stage of learning how to use the tyres and set the car up, and the drivers still have to understand where everything fits with tyres, set-up and so on. So that's what we need to attack in Barcelona this week.'
‘It wasn't really an issue for us. All credit to the drivers really, they got used to the feel of the car very quickly. In the dry there is a grip increase, so it counteracts the reduction in downforce a little bit, but in the wet, the loss of downforce didn't seem to be a problem. We didn't have to migrate a long way from the dry set-up, which is I think a good sign.'Q: You have not run KERS yet. Does that allow you to concentrate on the rest of the package?
‘The priority for us is to just get the car itself running, and cover all the basics. We have to get the tyres sorted, understand where the ride heights need to sit, understand the spring rates and weight distribution and all the fundamentals. When the KERS comes along we should be in good enough shape to make the best use of it.'Q: Do you know when you will race with it?
‘The car is fully designed for KERS, but since November we've had to do a huge amount of work, and the priority really has been getting the car on the track with the new engine and gearbox, a different wheelbase from what we'd planned, and all the other complications that resulted from the change of supplier.'Q: When will you test with the adjustable front wing?
‘This week, we'll be finalising some data in the tunnel. The system was on the car in Jerez, but it wasn't operable at the time.'Q: Do you have any more running after Barcelona?
‘We have a final private test at Silverstone before Melbourne, which is effectively a shakedown for the second race car.'Source - Force India
The Team : The Force BehindDr. Vijay Mallya - Chairman and Managing Director
Dr. Vijay Mallya, is the face of the $3 billion ÚB Group. 52 year-old Dr. Mallya took over the reins of the Únited Breweries Group in 1983 at the tender age of 28 and has, since then, steered the ÚB Group to a multinational conglomerate.
Instrumental in shaping the Kingfisher brand as a powerbrand across the globe, Dr. Mallya has received several awards both in India and overseas. He was conferred a Doctorate in Philosophy in Business Administration (honoris causa) by the Úniversity of Southern California and nominated as a Global Leader for Tomorrow by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF).
The spirits business of The ÚB Group - Únited Spirits Limited, is the world's 3rd largest beverage alcohol company and has recently acquired the Whyte & Mackay business worldwide.
The ÚB Group is India's No. 1 airline group with its ownership of India's favorite carrier - Kingfisher Airlines, a Five Star airline.
Dr. Mallya has been a member of the parliament and is on the board of several public companies in India.
Michiel Mol - Co-Owner
Michiel Mol is one of Europe's most succesful e-businessmen of the past decade. Having graduated from Leiden Úniversity with a degree in Computer Science and Mathematics he started his own company, Lost Boys international (LBi), which has since grown to Europe's largest digital agency, and is listed on both the Dutch and Swedish exchanges.
Michiel is still the largest shareholder and member of the supervisory board at LBi. In addition to LBi he founded Media Republic and Guerrilla Games, the latter he sold to Sony last year.
Michiel currently co owns the Force India Formula One Team with Dr Vijay Mallya.Source - Force India
The 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship heralds the start of a new era of Indian motorsport: the first full season for the Force India Formula One Team and a representation of the new young fast paced global Indians and F1™ fans from across the world.
The team's journey started in October 2007 when Dr. Vijay Mallya, together with the Mol family, established a joint-venture company called Orange India Holdings (OIH) to purchase the Spyker Formula One Team from Spyker Cars N.V.
Force India's Journey
Although Force India's Formula One challenge will start with the 2008 season at the Melbourne Grand Prix, the team is based on solid foundations. The team is built from the ashes of Jordan Grand Prix, which was established by Irishman Eddie Jordan in 1991, which later became Midland F1™ Racing in 2005 and the Spyker Formula One Team in 2006.
The dynamic entrepreneur Eddie Jordan had raced as a driver in the British Formula 3 Championship in the late 70s before the establishment of Eddie Jordan Racing, a team for customer drivers in the early 80s. Just a few years later in 1982 the team encountered its first successes in the European F3 Championship before, that same year, giving Ayrton Senna his first run in a Formula 3 car.
Success resulted in expansion and the team soon ran two-car operations in Britain and Europe, including one for young Briton Martin Brundle in the British championship, who would later drive for the team in F1™. In an epic battle with Senna, Brundle scored six wins but ultimately lost the title to the Brazilian in 1984. Further success followed the subsequent year, and Jordan also graduated to the F3000 championships with more horsepower and more grip
The following year Jordan ran programmes in British and French F3 and a limited F3000 schedule, but it was not until the 1987 season that the team would really start to make waves, this time with Johnny Herbert who scored five wins to win the British title. Herbert would move with the team to F3000 in '88 for the team's first serious attempt at the championship.
Just two years after entering the formula, the team secured the F3000 title with Jean Alesi, which proved to be the catalyst for its F1™ attempt. Programmes in F3 were abandoned, F3000 plans were scaled down and, at the start of the 1991 season, Jordan revealed its F1™ challenger – a simple, well-designed Ford-engined car emblazoned in a striking green livery of its new sponsor 7-Úp. Italian Andrea de Cesaris and Bertrand Gachot were to drive.
The first season brought more than anticipated success: in its debut year, the team finished fifth in the Constructors' Championship. It was also to be remarkable for one other reason as Jordan gave an opportunity to a young German, Michael Schumacher, his first-ever F1™ start. On his race debut in Belgium, he put the new car seventh on the grid but, unfortunately clutch failure left him stranded at the start. Únfortunately it was also to be Schumacher's one and only race for the team as he was snatched by Benetton for the following race. Schumacher was replaced by Roberto Moreno and later Alex Zanardi.
In 1992 Jordan ran Yamaha engines, and also moved to a new facility at Silverstone (where the team is still based today). There were high expectations for new drivers, Stefano Modena and Mauricio Gugelmin, but the roaring success of the previous year was not repeated and in 1993 things changed again as the team moved to Hart engines and new drivers, Rubens Barrichello and Ivan Capelli. Capelli left early in the year and was replaced by a string of others, which culminated in Suzuka with Eddie Irvine, who managed to pass Ayrton Senna on his debut!
Barrichello and Irvine were retained for the 1994 season and Barrichello gave the team its first podium finish at the Pacific Grand Prix in Aida, Japan. That year the team repeated its 1991 success with fifth in the Constructors' Championship yet again, with Barrichello securing the team's first-ever pole position en route.
A factory engine deal with Peugeot beckoned for 1995 but results were disappointing, even though during the Canadian Grand Prix that year, both Irvine and Barrichello finished on the podium, in second and third respectively. It was the highlight to an unspectacular but relatively solid year for Jordan, as they hung around mid-pack to finish sixth in the Championship. Irvine was lured away to partner Michael Schumacher at Ferrari and replaced at Jordan by its ex-Formula 3 driver Martin Brundle for 1996.
Results the next season however improved and at the end of the year the team landed a big sponsorship deal from Benson & Hedges from 1996 which enabled the team to expand. Although results were rather disappointing the team finished fifth in the Constructors' Championship again with a string of fourth placed finishes.
At the end of the year both Barrichello and Brundle departed and the team signed young upcoming drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Ralf Schumacher. It was a promising year and, again, the team finished fifth in the Championship, with Fisichella scoring two finishes on the podium. At Hockenheim Fisichella had led the race, but lost out to an inspired Gerhard Berger and a puncture. The Italian scored the fastest lap at the Spanish Grand Prix and Ralf picked up a podium in Argentina.
In 1998 the team had outgrown the Peugeot engines and signed a deal to use Mugen Honda power with ex-World Champion Damon Hill partnered with Schumacher for 1998. The result of this double act was the start of new successful era for the team. After an extraordinary race in Belgium, Hill was the driver to give the team its first F1™ victory - with Schumacher second. Hill finished sixth in the driver's standings with Ralf 10th, but it was Hill's heroic last lap, last-corner move on outgoing Williams driver Frentzen at Suzuka that won Jordan fourth in the Constructors' Championship. By then Jordan had restructured its technical department, with Mike Gascoyne joining to head up design and engineering.
In 1999 Schumacher elected to join Williams and Jordan hired his compatriot Heinz-Harald Frentzen. Hill stayed on, but was overshadowed as Frentzen did a remarkable job to win the French and Italian GPs. At the end of the year, Frentzen was even fighting for the title – he just missed it to finish in third - with Jordan third in the Constructors' title.
Hill retired at the end of the year, and Jordan took on Jarno Trulli to partner Frentzen in 2000. The team added to its budget with a major new sponsorship deal from Deutsche Post but it was a disappointing year as results were not forthcoming, Gascoyne moved to Renault and the team was also now running short of money.
It did make the grade for the 2003 season however, and even nabbed a surprising win in Brazil with Fisichella, who had returned to the team. It was not enough to stop the decline though and in 2004 Fisichella and Giorgio Pantano and Timo Glock struggled to be competitive
That winter Eddie Jordan sold out to Russia's Midland Group. The team retained the Jordan name for 2005 with drivers Narain Karthikeyan and Tiago Monteiro and at the end of the year was transformed into a new team called Midland F1™ Racing, with Colin Kolles as team principal, bringing to an end the history of the Jordan name in F1™Midland F1™ Racing
Midland F1™ Racing competed in the 2006 season with newly-signed driver Christijan Albers and Monteiro. Owned by Russian-Canadian businessman and owner of the Midland Group, Alex Shnaider, the team was registered as the first Russian F1™ team, however continued to run out of its Silverstone base.
The 2006 season was encouraging for Midland as the team went from running ahead of Super Aguri but behind everyone else, to consistently sparring with other midfield teams such as Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso. The team also went from being around four seconds off the pace per lap in 2005 to around two seconds per lap at the time of its sale to Spyker Cars in September 2006
The two Midland-owned years were however tough for the team, with a podium finish for Monteiro in the 2004 ÚS Grand Prix a lonely highlight. The team was sold to Spyker Cars N.V. and raced for the final three Grands Prix of the 2006 season under the official name Spyker MF1 Racing. From 2007 onwards, the team competed as Spyker F1™.Spyker Formula One Team
Colin Kolles remained as team principal, while Spyker shareholder and businessman Michiel Mol became the new Director of F1™ racing and member of the Spyker board and Mike Gascoyne joined as Chief Technology Officer at the end of the season.
From 2007 onwards the team was known as Spyker Formula One Team and, under Gascoyne's direction, improved over the course of the season, running from the back of the grid to challenging more established teams and drivers. Adrian Sutil finally sealed the team's first point in the Japanese Grand Prix.
Following financial difficulties for the parent company Spyker, the team was sold to iconic businessman Vijay Mallya and Michiel Mol and renamed Force India Formula One Team: a new era for both the team and Indian sport.Source - Force India