Online launch for Force India's 2011 car 08 Feb 2011
Force India have unveiled their 2011 challenger online ahead of its track debut later this week. After finishing seventh in the 2010 constructors championship, the team hope the Mercedes-engined VJM04 will power them to even greater things in 2011.
The new car will be raced by Adrian Sutil and reigning DTM champion Paul di Resta, who was the teams third driver in 2010. Former Williams racer Nico Hulkenberg has joined the outfit to replace Di Resta as third driver.
2010 was an exceptional year for the team, said team principal Dr Vijay Mallya. We were seventh in the championship with only teams who had previously won world titles ahead of us, which demonstrated we are still on target to achieve our goals. And this year there is even more to be optimistic about. We've got three race drivers that are hungry to take the next steps in their careers, whether that be points, podiums or wins.
We have an experienced technical team that have the ingenuity, flexibility and drive to adapt to the new wave of rule changes, and we also have the tools and resources in our partnerships with McLaren Applied Technologies and Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines to aim even higher. Not to mention the very special event, and one that I personally can't wait for, the inaugural Indian Grand Prix. What better place would there be to reach some of those aims than on our home soil?
The VJM04 has been designed in-house at the team's UK facility by a unit led by technical director Andrew Green. Although an evolution of its predecessor, the new car is very different thanks to 2011s rule changes and features a moveable rear wing, a KERS system and a new-look roll hoop.
Everything is different, but visually a lot of it is subtle, explained Green. The most obvious visual change is that we've gone away from a conventional roll-hoop to a blade. This gives us a small packaging improvement compared to a more conventional style. The engine cover is different, in-line with the abolition of the F-duct system. But there are a lot of differences under the skin that people won't necessarily notice.
This seasons ban on double diffusers left the team with a downforce shortfall, but Green is confident they have recouped most of what they lost.
"We've recovered a lot of the aerodynamic performance, we believe, he added. "We still have a little bit to go, but we are still in the process of the realignment after the end of last season, because it does take a long time to move aerodynamically from one position to another. The moveable wing is a whole new game, and we'll be trying to exploit its performance to the max.
"Exhaust management will also be a big area of development this year. There will be an upgrade for the first race, so there are some changes that will come into effect at the Bahrain test. Further down the line there are some big updates for the front of the car coming in for the first European race."
Green is also keen to build development momentum over the course of the season and plans to use the Fridays of race weekends more thoroughly by placing a greater emphasis on gathering data.
We are going to be using the real car at the track as a validation tool for the aerodynamics, which is something that we haven't done effectively before," he explained. "There's a lot more focus on what's actually happening on the car aerodynamically. To measure it at the fidelity that we need to measure it at is a huge task. We understand how important it is, and we're in that game now as well. That will start to feed back into the aerodynamic development of the car.
There are some big developments in the pipeline, probably bigger than this team has seen for quite a while. I think we're looking for a much stronger finish to the season. The plan is to be putting stronger performance on the car through the year that will lift us up the ranks.
Both Sutil and Di Resta are thrilled with their new car and spoke of their hopes for the season ahead: I'm genuinely excited about the 2011 season, said Sutil. I just missed out on the top 10 last year in the drivers' standings - I'm pretty hopeful I can get in there this season! The progress the team has shown over the past two years has been very impressive and what I've seen in the factory and at the wind tunnel over the past weeks indicates that the rate will continue this year. I feel very good and confident; the team and I know each other very well and we know how to get the most from each other.
Di Resta added: I don't want to say exact targets on record as there are so many factors that can come into play. What I do want to do is to have a positive approach, finish, be consistent and contribute strongly to the team's overall performance. We've got high aims of finishing in a good constructors' championship position and I know that I've got to play my part in this.
Following its launch on Tuesday, the VJM04 will make its testing debut at the Spanish circuit of Jerez on Thursday, as the second multi-team pre-season test session gets underway at the Spanish circuit.
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