Force India unveiled its VJM03 car for the 2010 Formula One season, claiming that the newly-designed vehicle will be fit for all types of circuits unlike last year’s VJM02, which was quicker on low downforce tracks.
Force India’s chairman Vijay Mallya said his team is looking forward to a strong performance right from the start of the year in Bahrain.
“I don’t think I am being over-proud when I say 2009 was an exceptional year for us. The bare statistics say it all: one podium, one pole position, one fastest lap, a further five top 10 starts and 13 points. We’ve learnt from our experiences and we’ve come out a better team: resilient, resourceful and now resurgent.
“I hope 2010 will see this great progress carrying forward. We’ve got one podium so far but I would hope that, this time next year, I’m talking about more points and more podiums. I’m confident we can get this, why not aim high?,” he said.
Adrian Sutil, who scored his first point for Force India at Monza in September last by finishing fourth, said he would look for a strong performance from the first race itself.
“2010 is a really important season and we are very optimistic about doing well. I think this year it’s important to be consistent from the first race. I’d like to be in the midfield and be competitive from Bahrain.
“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 with the car and what I can do. I hope we will be strong from the first practice session,” Sutil said.
VJM03, an evolution of last year’s VJMO2, incorporates the package of rule changes introduced for this year, including the requirement for a larger fuel tank, necessitated by the ban on refuelling, and a switch to narrower front tyres.
Design director Mark Smith explained, “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 is 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.”
Asked the other differences between the new VJM03 and VJM02, Smith explains, “Last year’s VJM02 was noticeably quicker on the low downforce circuits, however Mark is confident that this year the VJM03 will be strong across the board.
“The VJM02 was a relatively low drag car that showed well on the low downforce tracks. That was a useful attribute (in 2009) but as we go into 2010 we have tried to maintain a high-level of aerodynamic efficiency. 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 VJM03 will have its official testing debut tomorrow here. Tonio Liuzzi will be on driving duties for the first two days before Adrian Sutil takes over on February 12 for a further two days. Test driver Paul di Resta will step into the car on February 17.