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.
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. Force India's Journey
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-Up. 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. Unfortunately 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 US 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 F1 Team: a new era for both the team and Indian sport.Source: Force India