Tag Archives: Force India

11th February: Testing results

Kamui Kobayashi put in a low-fuel run near the end of today’s testing, to take the fastest lap of today’s running in Jerez.

Sebastien Buemi had led for most of the day, with a 1.20.026, but Kobayashi’s lap of 1.19.950 was enough to see him on top. However, there was concern at Virgin, where Timo Glock had a “front wing mounting problem”, which basically ment the front wing fell off. This was only after 11 laps, and even worse, there was a shortage of components, which meant that the team will have to wait until tomorrow to continue testing. Glock has managed a miserable 16 laps in 2 days, and has finished last on both occasions.

Back at the top, Jenson Button was behind Kobayashi and Buemi in third (1.20.618), and was followed by Hulkenberg, Liuzzi, Schumacher, Alonso, Kubica, Webber and then Glock.

There was another problem, however, in the form of yesterday’s intermediate tyres wearing too quickly. Many of the drivers were today complaining about excessive wear on the tyres, even when the track was saturated with water. Nico Hulkenberg said:

“Even though we were picking up a lot of water on the track they still seemed too soft. They were wearing a lot quite quickly.”

Jenson Button, however, believes the problem is with the Jerez circuit itself:

“It’s quite an abrasive surface here. The wet tyre felt like it would last forever but the intermediate had a much shorter lifespan. I think that was the same for everyone. It’s about keeping a balance so you’re not destroying one end. It is an abrasive surface and layout here and we saw the same thing last year.”

On another subject, Hulkenberg has said that there is definitely a power increase with this year’s Cosworth engine, compared to last year’s Toyota one. He said:

“It’s good, I’m very positively surprised about it. There’s been no issues with reliability and drive-ability’s very good. It feels better, it feels stronger [than the Toyota].”

Times from today’s test:

Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference # of laps
1. K. Kobayashi Sauber C25 1.19.950 103
2. S. Buemi Toro Rosso STR5 1.20.026 +0.076 121
3. J. Button McLaren MP4-25 1.20.618 +0.668 83
4. N. Hulkenberg Williams FW32 1.20.629 +0.679 67
5. V. Liuzzi Force India VJM03 1.20.754 +0.804 80
6. M. Schumacher Mercedes W01 1.21.003 +1.133 124
7. F. Alonso Ferrari F10 1.21.424 +1.474 129
8.

9.

10.

R. Kubica

M. Webber

T. Glock

Renault

Red Bull

Virgin

R30

RB6

VR-01

1.22.003

1.22.043

1.29.964

+2.053

+2.093

+10.014

103

99

11

Pictures from today’s testing:

Heavier car “like a bus”: Liuzzi

Vitantonio Liuzzi

Vitantonio Liuzzi

Force India driver Vitantonio Liuzzi has spoken about the effects of driving a car which is fully leaden with fuel, because of the refuelling ban.

He claimed that the difference between low and heavy fuel loads were “like a Lotus Elise and a bus!” He said:

“When it’s full of fuel everything’s lazier – the steering, the brakes, changing direction. It was very hard to drive it in the wet with a full fuel load.”

“It will be more challenging for the teams and the drivers – and good for the show.”

“It’s a drastic change. The drivers will have to take care of their cars more this year. There will have to be more communication between the driver and team. But I like having more things to handle like that.”

This year, we will see a huge variant in driving across the race. Tyres, brakes and engines will now have to be managed differently now, because of the lack of refuelling.

Force India’s design director, Mark Smith, said that the teams will have to use harder brake materials this year, to cope with the higher pressure of having to stop a heavier car throughout the race. However, it will be difficult, as maximum brake sizes remain the same as last year.

10th February: Testing results

Nico Rosberg topped the timesheets today, in a rain-soaked session.

The Mercedes driver clocked in a fastest lap of 1:20.927, which was set in the morning, before the rain came out. Timo Glock was the only driver who was completely caught out by this, and could only set 5 laps, at a point where the track was at its wettest. His time was a 1:38.734.

Sebastien Buemi was second fastest (1:21.031), followed by Nico Hulkenberg for Williams (1:22.243). The other drivers, in order, were Fernando Alonso, Kamui Kobayashi, Jenson Button, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Vitaly Petrov, Mark Webber, and Glock.

Mark Webber was the first to bring out the red flags, when he stopped out on track half an hour after the session had started at 9 in the morning. It was described as a “simple component failure”, which later turned out to be an oil leak. However, the fault meant that the engine had to be changed, which stopped him running until 4.45 pm. Then, he only got 3 laps after that, when Rosberg stopped out on track, bringing out the red falgs and ending the session.

Nico Rosberg attributed his fastest lap to a better seating position in the car:

“The car felt very good today,” he said. “Compared to Valencia where I was sitting too low which affected my visibility and the set-up wasn’t perfect, today I felt really comfortable and I could push so it was an enjoyable day and a good start to the test for me.”

The times are as follows:

Driver Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference
# of laps
1. N. Rosberg Mercedes W01 1.20.927 57
2. S. Buemi Toro Rosso STR5 1.21.031 +0.104 84
3. N. Hulkenberg Williams FW32 1.22.243 +1.136 118
4. F. Alonso Ferrari F10 1.22.895 +1.968 88
5. K. Kobayashi BMW Sauber C25 1.23.287 +2.360 55
6. J. Button McLaren MP4-25 1.24.947 +4.020 68
7. V. Liuzzi Force India VJM03 1.24.968 +4.041 71
8.

9.

10.

V. Petrov

M. Webber

T. Glock

Renault

Red Bull

Virgin

R30

RB6

VR-01

1.25.440

1.26.502

1.38.734

+4.513

+5.575

+17.807

27

50

5

Pictures from the test:

Force India VJM03 launched

The Force India 2010 car, to be called the VJM03, has been launched online today.

The team has said that this year’s car is an evolution of last year’s car, the VJM02. That car was superb in low-downforce conditions, but hugely struggled everywhere else. This year’s car is hoped to be much better in medium and high-downforce circuits.

Force India are to continue using Mercedes engines, widely considered the best engines on the grid last year. Their driver line-up has also been unaffected, with the team electing to stick with Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi. Paul di Resta will be the reserve driver, and will take part in Friday practice sessions with the team. This widens speculation that he will be hires as a race driver for 2011.

The car was fired up earlier today. It will make its first public debut tomorrow, when Adrian Sutil drives the car at the second of the main F1 tests, in Jerez. The car’s designer, Mark Smith, said:

“The VJM03 is definitely an evolution of the VJM02 in terms of the design philosophies we have developed at Force India over the last year. We are very happy with the direction, therefore we have opted to evolve the car rather than significantly revise.”

“Obviously one of the major aspects we have had to contend with are regulation changes which have had a considerable impact on some aspects of the design of the car. The removal of refuelling from races increases the amount of fuel needed to be stored in the cars – almost twice the amount we ran in 2009. There is a compromise now: either make the car much longer or wider, or, as we have done, a combination of both. This of course has influenced the mechanical design solutions and also the aerodynamics, specifically with respects to the diffuser and bodywork.”

“Even with the ban of double diffusers for 2011, we recognise that we still have to push as much as we possibly can in this area in 2010 as we have targets to meet and the double diffuser is a key development aspect of the car.”

“The VJM02 was a relatively low drag car that showed well on the low downforce tracks. As was demonstrated throughout 2009, that was a useful attribute but as we go into 2010 we have tried to maintain a high level of aerodynamic efficiency, but we recognise that our championship position will be enhanced by a general level of performance that is suited to all types of circuits. We have, we believe, quite an efficient car overall.”

The livery is almost exactly the same, except the sides of the rear wing are now green. A bit lazy, in my opinion, but it’s still nice paint work. The car features a much wider wheelbase, mostly made at the back, for the larger fuel tank. The shark fin engine cover has been revised, the engine intake is lower and further forward, and the nosecone is higher. However, the team is not sporting last year’s Reb Bull horned nose design. The front wing actually looks much simpler, with bigger and less main sections, and oddly plain endplates.

They were right: it is definitely only an evolution rather than a revolution. The real question is whether they have solved their downforce problems. We should get a good indicator tomorrow at the Jerez test.

Force India have released interviews with Adrian Sutil, Vitantonio Liuzzi, and chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer:

Adrian Sutil, driver

2009 was a transitional year for the team, and you scored your best result in F1 to date. How would you sum up this year?
2009 was a really important year. I was very close to scoring points in a lot of races and, frustratingly, something always happened. So when we got to Monza, it was a pretty perfect weekend. I scored my first front row, my first points since 2007 and it gave me a lot of extra confidence. I was very happy when the success came and it was for sure a big moment in my career, the turning point. It’s really different to start from the front row and race at the front and I feel it has helped me to grow. I know I need to follow it up this year now.

How do you feel going into this year?
I hope we will have a good season and I am pretty confident we will. We have had a good winter and a very good development programme so expectations are high. The car looks great, we did a positive step with the wind tunnel simulations but let’s test and see where we are. I know we need to perform well and from my side I have tried to be perfectly prepared.

What will your aims be this year, how do you intend to build on last year?
2010 is a really important season and we are very optimistic about going well. When you start a season you always want it to be better than the previous one and I think this year it’s important to be consistent from the first race. It’s the first time we have been completely on schedule so I feel this will be the first season when I can show from the beginning to the end what is possible on the car and what I can do. I’d like to be in the midfield and be competitive from Bahrain.

This is now your fourth season with the Silverstone-based team. What does this stability mean for you?
I feel really good in the team, it’s like family for me as they know me very well, they know how I work and my strengths and weaknesses. With that kind of relationship they can really get the things that suit me and I have confidence in them to do it. At the end of last season I felt very good and it was hard to find a better option for 2010. Over the past four years we have of course seen many different changes but when Vijay took over in 2007 it was a step in the right direction. He’s committed to go for it and he has his goals. Right now we’re looking really good, we’ve sorted out all the issues and this winter has been a consistent working situation so it’s a big advantage. It’s nice to be one of the few teams who have stability now and can just focus on the racing.

The competition is very tough this year, with new teams and more world champions in the field than in previous years. What are your thoughts on this?
The competition of course will be really tough with four world champions in the field now – of course Lewis and Jenson in McLaren, Fernando in the Ferrari and now Michael back in Mercedes. I have a lot of respect for all of them and I’m actually really excited about being on the same grid, but at the end of the day they are your competitors. You can’t hold them up as heroes or goals – when we’re racing they are people you need to beat. If you do go well against them it will really lift you so I’m looking forward to seeing how I do.

Vitantonio Liuzzi, driver

It’s finally a chance to get a full race season under your belt for the first time since 2007. What are your thoughts on this?
After one and a half years in a test role, I feel really prepared, both physically and mentally for a full race season. My objective is to be as strong and consistent as possible and give good feedback to the team to help them improve. For sure scoring points as many times as I can is going to be the key and you never know, perhaps we can get something more as well if everything comes together.

How would you review your five races in 2009? What did you learn?
It was a great opportunity to learn the tracks and then get back to the rhythm of a F1 car. I was a bit disappointed with some races, but we knew that the car would suit Monza much better than the other types of circuit. We had a bit of bad luck as well, like qualifying in Brazil when I aquaplaned off. Although it was difficult to score points, it was important for me to show that when the car is performing well I am ready to bring the results in and I’m always the same, fast competitive driver I’ve always been. It was a good warm up for 2010.

Do you feel this time round as a racer you’re approaching it differently?
In Force India I feel really good, the atmosphere is great and the team works well together. Even when I was in a difficult position last year as a test driver they were very supportive and I’ve built a good strong relationship with them. I feel like I’m in a family and for sure much better environment than I have been in the past. This year is a new start for me. I’m a different person from two years ago and I am approaching it from a different mentality. It’s a different Tonio and I’m looking forward to what can come. I’m still young and have a lot of time in front of me so I just want to prove what I can do.

Do you feel confident in the VJM03?
I have to say that the team, looking at what we did last year, has done a fantastic job. They never stopped working on the 2009 car to push right to the end, but have been flat out for 2010 as well. I am really confident in the work they have done over the winter and we’ve built a car that can regularly be in the points. That’s also my aim, plus to be more consistent and competitive throughout the whole season.

With the new teams coming in, Force India won’t be the smallest team on the grid any more. Is this an advantage?
Yes, this is an advantage for us as we know how to operate on smaller levels that the bigger teams will have to get used to, while the new teams have a tough job to do. I think it will be a good season for us.

Otmar Szafnauer, chief operating officer

You’ve been with the team for nearly four months now. What impressions have you gained?
I like the atmosphere in the team. With half the people of a big team we design a good car and the wind tunnel guys do a very good job in getting the numbers that are required. You just don’t have the time or resources available to waste, so you just get on with the job.

When you joined the team was in a very stable situation, and was enjoying some success on the track. Has that helped to make things very straightforward for you?
I think stability does produce results. That’s not to say you shouldn’t change and improve as clearly you should, but huge upheavals never help. If you can have stability with the right people pulling in the same direction, you’re much better off. Fortunately we have that here.

What improvements are already underway?
There are two big improvements from 2009. One has been the increase in our CFD [Computational Fluid Dynamics] resource, thanks to a new partnership with CRL in India, which has increased our capacity by five-fold. The other principal area has been the utilisation of the wind tunnel to a greater extent, almost 24 -7. Coupled together this has allowed us to take great steps forward. Last year Simon Roberts also instilled some very good processes and procedures that have also helped to refine our procedures, communications within the company and ultimately the decision making process. Simon did a great job in doing that, and I’m going to carry that forward.

Like Red Bull you missed the Valencia test, and instead you are shaking down the new car at Silverstone. What was the thinking behind that?
It was a strategic decision. By missing the first test, we can gain a little bit more development time – a little bit longer in the tunnel, a little bit longer thinking about what’s important on the car. It was just a trade-off decision. We completed a shakedown day, before the testing started that regains a little bit of what we’ve lost.

This year there is a Resource Restriction Agreement taking shape – how does that affect Force India?
There’s a step down in personnel allowed at races this year, as well as on external expenditure, but neither affect us at all. If we change nothing this year, we’ll be below both of the levels set whereas some other teams will have to come down. It is very much to our advantage as we are not having to learn any new skills or working operations procedures.

What are the big challenges that the team faces over the next year or two?
Our biggest challenge is to get the wind tunnel up to 24-7, and becoming efficient with our CFD capacity. For you to maximise your performance there are a thousand little things that you need to get right. This year the racing is going to be a bit different, with no refuelling, and it’s always good to have more money so you can do more development throughout the year!

You mentioned the changes in race strategy this year. Do you think that the team could gain from being quick on its feet and making the right calls?
Yes, especially early on in the year when people haven’t quite settled down yet. I think in F1 we’re all quick to learn, and quick to learn from each other. If we can make some good calls early on, that will help us.

You have kept the same drivers. What do they bring to the team?
Adrian is a great asset. He’s very talented, and he’s fast and fearless, and he’ll gain from the experience he now has. If Tonio can learn from last year, and his confidence is up knowing that he’s got a regular seat now, he has great potential.

Finally you have signed Paul di Resta as third driver. How do you see his role?
He’s a young driver with a lot of potential, and we’re going to work with him to maximise that potential. And that should be to the benefit of this team. He can help us in simulator testing, and he should be doing some Friday testing just to get familiar with the car and hone his skills. And then we’ll see about the future.

Pictures of the new VJM03 (helmet photos included):

Di Resta is Force India test driver

Paul Di Resta testing for Force India last December

Paul Di Resta testing for Force India last December

As I had earlier predicted, Paul di Resta has been announced as the third driver for Force India in 2010. As part of this, it has been announced that he will take part in Friday practice sessions with the team.

This raises the predictions that he will drive for the team in 2011. Di Resta was said to be “ecstatic”, saying:

“I think this programme is a perfect way to prepare fully and be ready to go if and when the chance of a race seat comes. I hope this will be the start of a long-term future with Force India.”

Paul di Resta is sponsored by Whyte & Mackey, who also happen to sponsor Force India this year. He also drove for the team at the December young driver test last year. He has been racing in DTM for the last 3 years. Before that, he won the Formula 3 Euroseries in 2006.

Fisichella to join Le Mans Series

Giancarlo Fisichella

Giancarlo Fisichella

It has been announced that Giancarlo Fisichella will race in the Le Mans Series this year, effectively ending his F1 career.

After spending last year with Force India, Fisi got the team its first ever podium. He moved to Ferrari to replace Luca Badoer for the last few races, but failed to score a point. Ferrari announced that Giancarlo was to be their reserve driver for 2010, but Fisichella did not want this, so he has moved on.

It is unknown what category he will be racing in. However, Maserati, Ferrari’s sister team, races in GT2 and GT1 respectively.

I’ll be honest, I’m really sad to see him go. His reputation was damaged after 2 poor years with Renault in 2005 and 2006, but I’ll always remember him as the hero who drove the terrible Jordan EJ13 to victory, in horrible weather, in Brazil 2003. Also, his well deserved 2nd place in Belgium last year was something special.

Since joining Formula 1 in 1996, he has always had a reputation of being brilliant in terrible cars, and poor in great cars. However, it’s bad to just look at the Renault years here. As well as Jordan and Force India, he endured many poor years at Benneton, and one at Minardi.

I’ll write more on this tomorrow.

Di Resta set for Friday practice role

Paul Di Resta testing for Force India last December

Paul Di Resta testing for Force India last December

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has revealed that Paul di Resta is close to getting a deal with Force India that would see him take part in Friday practice sessions on race weekends.

Speaking to Reuters, he said:

“Paul will be running I believe in the majority of the Friday sessions (at grand prix weekends) for Force India, so it’s a great opportunity for him.”

“I’m happy for him. He’s going to push like hell to make his case to have a race drive at Force India during the course of this year.”

Also, he revealed that several midfield team were looking at this option:

“If you are trying to win a championship, to not allow your principal drivers the Friday session is not something we would contemplate,” he explained. “But it’s something that some other teams are looking at and it’s a great opportunity for Paul.”

My first thought is this: Why the hell is this being reported by Whitmarsh? Surely someone from Force India would have said this, if they knew it was happening. And anyways, it’s not Whitmarsh’s business, so he has no reason to go off  telling everyone about it.

More to the point, this is a great opportunity for di Resta. Test drivers rarely get a chance to prove themselves these days, so he will have to do his very best in these sessions.

Di Resta closing in on Force India drive (includes interview video)

Paul Di Resta testing for Force India last December

Paul Di Resta testing for Force India last December

Current DTM driver, Paul Di Resta, says that he is currently closing in on a contract as a test driver for Force India for this season.

He has driven a Force India before, in the young driver test last December, and impressed with getting 2nd fastest laps in 2 days out of 3. Regarding this test, Di Resta was happy, saying:

“Yeah. We had a very difficult year in the DTM last year. It did not get off to the best start but then, during the year, we started talking to Force India. And thankfully they gave me an opportunity to go down to Jerez and do three half days in the car.”

“It was a big opportunity and something I have waited a long time to do, to get a serious chance to drive the car, and it was very productive. We came out very strong and also moved forward and built a relationship with Force India.”

He is currently in negotiations with Vijay Mallya and the Force India team regarding a test driver contract for this year. Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi have already locked out the race seats. He stated:

“Things are moving along quite strong. Since the test for sure we have been in talks, and I would say we are about 90 per cent there. We are in the final stages of finishing off for the programme they have set and hopefully we can build a very long and strong relationship for me to try and race with Force India in the future.”

Di Resta also added that he may not be able to compete in DTM in the future with Merceedes, having spent 3 years with the team.

A full interview with Paul Di Resta, at the Autosport International, is available here:

Sutil: 2010 a big opportunity

Adrian Sutil

Adrian Sutil

Adrian Sutil, driver for Force India, thinks that 2010 can be a huge opportunity for him and his team.

In an interview with Formula1.com, he says that Force India can now be an established team:

“It feels very good to be a competitive team in Formula One. The 2009 season was one of the most important seasons for us. We were able to make a name for ourselves in F1 with constantly good performances and a few huge surprises. Now it’s important to continue our good work and try to be even more competitive in 2010.”

“What probably was a shortfall in the past is now turning into a big advantage for us right now, as we are used to working within a small budget and with less people. We can fully concentrate on our development, as we used to do over the last few years, without having to shift energy into various downgrades. Other teams need to learn – probably painfully – how to work efficiently with less people and a reduced budget. That could take a little while and so 2010 could be a big opportunity for us.”

Speaking about the new car, the VJM3, he said:

“The whole team is hard at work developing the best car possible and it looks very, very promising right now. For sure the new rules are a big challenge for everybody, so to make a clear statement about how good we have been in interpreting those new regulations we will have to wait until the first test in Jerez, where I will drive the VJM3 for the first time.”

Talking about his schedule before the season begins, he stated:

“The whole team is hard at work developing the best car possible and it looks very, very promising right now. For sure the new rules are a big challenge for everybody, so to make a clear statement about how good we have been in interpreting those new regulations we will have to wait until the first test in Jerez, where I will drive the VJM3 for the first time.”

Mercedes reveal launch date, and Force India to miss first test

Mercedes GP have announced their car launch date to be the 25th February. The car, to be called the RB1 (named after Ross Brawn), will be revealed in the Mercedes museum in Stuttgart.

Also, Force India have announced that they are to to join Red Bull in not attending the first F1 test, on the 1st February, in Valencia. Instead, the VJM03 will first be run on the 10th February, in Jerez.

Adrian Sutil has told Formula1.com that this is to have more development time – a similar strategy to Red Bull.

“The whole team is hard at work developing the best car possible and it looks very, very promising right now,” explained Sutil.

“For sure the new rules are a big challenge for everybody, so to make a clear statement about how good we have been in interpreting those new regulations we will have to wait until the first test in Jerez, where I will drive the VJM3 for the first time.”

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