27/02/2012

Force India- stay as a midfield team or move ahead?

This one is quite an interesting article we have in hand. Some serious words from deputy team principal Bob Fernley as he says the team faces decision on future ambitions. This is not about the team's future on monetarily base but the team's future as to what their aims and ambitions lie. As Bob said, "The question for the shareholders I think really is, do you want to stay as the best of the rest, or do you want to make a move to become a podium contender?" That's a valid question at this stage as the team looks to challenge the Top 5 teams and possibly fight for P5 position.

He adds, "At the moment it looks like we are in the mix for where we want to be - with the same people chasing us, and we chasing them - are as expected." The point Fernley wants to state is how much more can the shareholders of team invest to make it a team like that of Red Bull or McLaren so that the team in coming season challenges for podium and even for the title. He expects that the top teams will have massive updates whereas teams like Force India will have updates but not in comparison to the top teams.

I think it's a fair question in front of the shareholders. With the kind of success the team is having and should be having in the coming season, the investment rate should go up. More money should be brought in to boost the team's resources for development. If I were in the shareholders place, I would have invested more not thinking emotionally but thinking about the future a team like Force India can have. Hopefully, in the coming months we will know something more on this and to add some positive news on this.

Here is the full article for you to read.

News round up of Parthiva, Karthikeyan & Armaan

A mix bag of news we have, we start with a Q & A with F2 driver Parthiva Sureshwaren. He recently confirmed that he will be driving in the FIA Formula Two Championship. This is third season in F2 and he is already looking forward to the new season with his sponsor Lycamobile. His aim in 2012 season is to finish regularly in points and score some podium finishes. He's also looking forward to driving at the Hungaroring in Budapest. Click here to read the full interview with official F2 website.

Good news for Narain Karthikeyan & the HRT F1 team as Autosport (article) revealed that they had passed all the mandatory crash tests and have a homologated car to test and race now. Narain tweeted, "We have a car! Looks like a sure step forward from last year." The team now hopes to make it to the last test starting on Thursday with their new car.

On Friday, Armaan Ebrahim left for US to join his team Fan Force United starting a new season in Indy Lights, first Indian to make it there. He is subjected to meet fans during the team kickoff party on March 2 at the team race shop in Indy. Before leaving for US, he shared his thoughts on his new journey, click here to read what he said.

I think that's a good move by Parthiva to stay in F2 for the third season. He has got two years experience under his belt and now he can build up on that to improve his performance and as he said score points regularly and some podiums. As for Karthikeyan and HRT, it's surely a step forward if they make it to Barcelona with their new car and I hope they do. Finally, for Armaan it's a brand new world of motorsport and for many of the fans here as well as Indy is not the most viewed here. It's a new challenge for Armaan and the fact that he was chosen on the base of his performances is in itself says a lot. He will get a new exposure which will help his career to move to greater heights.

24/02/2012

Barcelona - day four

Result: Di Resta 3rd (1:23.119).

The final day of this test brought a mixed day for Force India.

On the one hand Paul managed to complete 101laps and gather lots of data for the team however the programme for the day was interrupted at one point when Paul went off into the gravel trap; thankfully the car was not damaged it just had to be recovered on a lorry during the subsequent red flag period.


Once more we must stress that laptimes don't count for much at this stage, what does count is the consistent running the team has had during this test.

Paul said:

"I had a small trip through the gravel in the morning, but nothing that caused too much of an issue, although we lost half an hour of running. The important thing is that we still managed to do our long runs in the afternoon and I could feel the changes we made compared to yesterday. It's given me a good impression of the car's balance and consistency, and we've seen that our long run pace is improving step by step."

As the test is over here are some stats from the four days:

Total number of laps completed - Barcelona Test
1) McLaren (463)
2) Williams (454)
3) Mercedes (399)
4) Sauber (395)
5) Force India (393)
6) Red Bull (365)
7) Ferrari (349)
8) Marussia (337) - in 2011 car.
9) Toro Rosso (296)
10) Caterham (240)
11) Lotus (7)
12) HRT (0) - not in attendance.

Combined Best Times - Barcelona Test (Force India)
1) Hulkenberg (1:22.608, day 2) 
2) Di Resta (1:23.119, day 4)
3) Hulkenberg (1:23.440, day 1)
4) Di Resta (1:25.646, day 3)

23/02/2012

Barcelona - day three

Result: Di Resta 8th (1:25.646).

Paul Di Resta's first day of the Barcelona test was a solid one. He completed 83laps setting a best time good enough for 8th place. Once again we must stress that times are largely incomparable at this stage due to differing configurations, fuel loads and tyre compounds. For instance we believe Paul's best lap today was set on the medium tyres while other drivers did runs on the softer/faster tyres.

There was one little mishap when Paul's engine cover flew off which brought out the red flag. It's nothing to really worry about, it's a very minor issue and after all, that is what testing is for.

Here are the remains of the engine cover that got away:

(click to enlarge) 

Yesterday Force India chief engineer, Jakob Andreason, spoke to media about Nico Hulkenberg's day in the car; he said:

"We began the programme with aero sweeps and also evaluated some mechanical components to address some improvements we felt could be made to the car following the Jerez test. The car has performed well throughout the day with good reliability, which allowed us to focus on adding performance. We completed the majority of the programme and got through our long runs in the afternoon, which helped build up Nico's knowledge of the hard and medium compound tyres".

We're waiting on quotes from Paul Di Resta about his drive today, like us on facebook here to receive an update about when they are out :-)

TATA Communications joins F1 & Armaan Ebrahim joins PUMA

This may come as a surprising news but it has happened. Tata Communications today announced it's multi-year technology service and marketing agreement with FOM. This deal we see Tata communication will provide connectivity to all the 20 race locations over its global network. In addition it will provide hosting and content delivery services to Formula1.com, the official F1 website.

When I first read this news, I was a bit surprised with the deal. But very happy as it's another step in the progress scale for Indian involvement in motorsport. This deal is risky in all aspect, because communication is a very important aspect of F1 and any small mistake with it will surely hurt the name of the company. Millions of people check the F1 website daily and we can imagine the traffic, to cope it will be a tough challenge but perhaps Tata communication being in this line for years now can take up this new challenge and do well for the fans and F1.

To read about the thoughts of Bernie & Vinod Kumar (MD & CEO of Tata Communications) along with the details about what the deal is all about, click here. Here's an article from James Allen (BBC 5Live commentator), he has beautifully summed up about the deal and the advantages it can bring to F1.

In other news Armaan Ebrahim has joined hands with one of the famous German sports merchandise dealer PUMA. He becomes the brand ambassador of the German brand, Armaan is quite happy with the association. Click here to read what he said.

Barcelona - day two

Result: Hulkenberg 1st (1:22.608).

Nico Hulkenberg was in the Force India VJM05 for the second consecutive day today and once again the session was very productive.

The end result saw him topping the timesheets after 112laps, just 0.040s up on the time set by Sergio Perez's Sauber. While it is flattering to see Force India at the top let's not forget that testing pace gives very little indication into actual speed so don't go thinking we're going to win a title in 2012! Nevertheless early signs are encouraging :-)

Tomorrow sees Paul Di Resta take the wheel of the car ... it will be interesting to see how his times match up with Nico's.

Best of luck to our Scottish driver for tomorrow!

22/02/2012

Karun in Coventry!

Karun Chandhok visited my university yesterday (Coventry University) for a Q&A session, thankfully i was in attendance. There were about 50-80 people present, mostly students, and they got to quiz the star of Indian Motorsport on a variety of topics. Here are some of the things that Karun said during his responses.

Early on in the event he stated, somewhat surprisingly, that he has "no interest in road cars" when asked about his road car history. Infact he told the crowd that when he did some filming with TV show Top Gear for a DVD he had to tell Jeremy that he didn't know which car was which! The producers then gave him a printed word document with the pictures of each car and the name of it below so he could learn them!

Karun also discussed his upcoming World Endurance Championship season saying that he was "looking forward" to getting in the car for real having only been on the simulator so far. He added that the main difference between F1 cars and endurance cars is the weight, specifically the power to weight ratio (obviously endurance cars are far heavier than the 640kg limit of an F1 car).

The way the World Endurance Championship works is that a team has three drivers who alternate behind the wheel (often in 3-4 hour stints). When a driver is not in the car they need to try and rest so when they get back in they will be refreshed, restored and ready to race. Karun said one of the main challenges he would face in an endurance event is sleeping! He mentioned that after a race stint, being able to switch off will be very hard due to the adrenaline pumping and also due to the noise around the circuit; likewise, when waking up it will be hard to get that adrenaline pumping once again to make sure he's on top form.

Another problem Karun discussed was that racing drivers, in general, have very methodical processes and in a series like F1 this is fine where each driver has their own car. However in the World Endurance Championship where one car is shared by three drivers this can be an issue as different drivers have different preferences. The ex-F1 driver gave the position of the steering wheel as one example; hard to position correctly as drivers have different heights and sizes' comfort could be an issue.

One rather interesting story he told the crowd was of when he first had the idea of becoming a racing driver. He went to his parents and told them he wanted to become a racer and his mum said that's fine as long as his A-Level results were good. Apparently his father responded with "you must be joking"; this was because Karun weighed alot during his younger days. However Karun showed his dedication to the cause and lost 20kg in the space of 10months (Janruary-October) and then went back to his father to begin what would become his career.

Karun also talked about his relationship with Bernie Ecclestone saying that he gets on well with the F1 supremo and he gave a nice little anecdote about when he first met Bernie as a young racer aged 16. At first he was nervous but he quickly realised that Bernie was just a normal guy really and they had a meal together along with Karun's father in a local pub.

The final question of the session was actually my question:

"Are you still looking for a reserve driver role in F1 this season?"

To this he answered that he was still looking for some F1 activity and that he was sure he would still be involved with the series in some capacity.

Personally i'm hoping that he gets a reserve driver role but failing that i would hope he carries on his commentary with the 5LiveF1 team (UK radio) as when he has done that job in the past he has been quite brilliant!

All in all an entertaining day and it was an absolute delight to meet him!

21/02/2012

Barcelona - day one

Result: Hulkenberg 2nd (1:23.440).

The second pre-season test got underway on Tuesday in Barcelona, Spain.

Nico Hulkenberg was in action for Force India, focusing on aero development and tyre work. In total the German driver completed 97laps and ended up just 0.175s behind Vettel's Red Bull. Despite this promising laptime we must stress that performance during testing gives little indication into outright speed due to varying fuel loads between teams and other major factors such as tyre compound.

Nico said:


"We had a good day, it was a positive programme, we started with some aero gathering this morning, some tyre comparisons with different compounds, and then long runs this afternoon. Generally there were no reliability issues, so there was a very positive impression of the car and a good feeling today. It was pretty good, surprisingly well. Maybe it suits a little bit better here than Jerez. I am also getting better. It is my second day, as Jerez was my first day after a long time out of the car. Each day, each kilometre is better. Reliability wise, the whole picture just looks very good right now. We are bedding in right now. Today, after lunch, I got back in and felt comfortable again. It feels a bit more like home - I am going through the sensation of that feeling. So far so good".

... very promising words from Nico who is back in the car for day two! :-)

15/02/2012

Aethra Sahara Force India Formula One Team ...

... just kidding, the name has not changed again, however the team does have a new partner!

Aethra are an auto parts manufacturer in Brazil and they have joined the team as an official partner for 2012.

What is interesting is that this company have been sponsoring Jules Bianchi all the way through GP2 so i guess the deal with Force India was logical!

Force India team principle/managing director, Vijay Mallya, said:

"I am pleased to welcome Aethra to the team as we prepare for the start of our 2012 campaign. Their support is important as we seek to build on the solid foundations we have established over the last four seasons and sustain the momentum we generated last year. As an auto parts supplier, Aethra is an ideal match for Sahara Force India and their understanding and passion for cars will help ensure the success of the partnership for both organisations".

Aethra CEO, Rafael Sportelli added:

"Aethra is very proud to join the Sahara Force India Formula One Team. Both companies share a long commitment to technical excellence and strive for innovation in very competitive environments. Over the last few years this has been demonstrated by Sahara Force India’s rise through the ranks, culminating in a fine sixth place in the championship last year. Aethra is delighted to be associated with a team that is hungry for success and we look forward to an exciting 2012 season".


Elsewhere, British F1 broadcaster, SkySports, have updated their website for the 2012 season. Read their Force India profile here and their Narain Karthikeyan profile here.

13/02/2012

Parthiva secures future!

Some good news for Parthiva Sureshwaren today as he has become the second driver to be confirmed to race in the 2012 FIA Formula Two championship which will be his third season in the series. The other driver to be confirmed in this series so far is British driver Luciano Bacheta.

This is the car Parthiva will be driving:

(click to enlarge)

Parthiva said the following:

"I am really happy to return to Formula Two after gaining a lot of experience in the last couple of seasons.  I feel confident heading into this season as I have a better understanding of the car and am better prepared for it. 2012 is an important year for me so I will work hard to achieve the best possible result.  My aim this season is to improve my overall performance by regularly finishing in the points and score some podium finishes."

Jonathan Palmer (Formula Two chief executive) added:

"I'm delighted Parthiva is back in F2 this year.  He had some very strong performances last season, including a superb drive at Brands Hatch in race two where he made up eight places from 19th on the grid, and I'm quite sure he will build on his experiences in 2012.  He's certainly capable of scoring frequently and securing his maiden podium."

Auto India Sports is really hoping for a good season for Parthiva ... F2 is very high up the motorsport ladder so doing well in this series could set a driver up very nicely for GP2 and/or F1!

Check out Parthiva's profile on the F2 website here and you can also follow him on twitter, he is @parthivsw.

Buddh to host GT1!

The news out of the Buddh International Circuit today is that they will host a FIA GT1 race in 2012!

GT1 is World championship sports car racing and this means that India's racing arena will will play host to some incredible cars such as:
  • Audi R8 LMS Ultra
  • BMW Z4 GT3
  • Ferrari 458 Italia
  • McLaren MP4-12C GT3
  • Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3
But that's not the only good news ... not only is the Buddh International Circuit hosting a race, it's hosting the season finale meaning the title could well be decided in India!

Stephane Ratel (founder and CEO of SRO Motorsports Group - the developers of the series) said:

"India completes the 2012 calendar in every way. It fulfils our ambition to continue to break new ground in global markets, taking world-class GT racing to new and exciting locations. To secure events in the three capital cities of the three fastest growing markets for luxury cars is a major step forward".

Meanwhile Sameer Gaur (MD and CEO of Jaypee Sports International Limited - the developers of the Buddh International Circuit) added:

"It is indeed a matter of great pleasure for us to be a part of the FIA GT1 World Championship. After having hosted a hugely successful F1 race at BIC last October, we are fully prepared for another successful international race. I am sure Indian motorsport fans would love it and India would soon acquire its rightful place in the world of high-speed motor racing".

This is a real event to be excited about; not only will it bring with it great racing but it will also enhance the profile of the already widely praised Buddh International Circuit. This can only be good for Indian motorsport!

Thanks for reading, remember to follow us on facebook here!

10/02/2012

Jerez - day four

Results: Hulkenberg 7th (1:19.977s).

A much better day for Force India than yesterday as Nico Hulkenberg had his first taste of the VJM05. Like the other three days mileage and tyre comparisons were the teams priority.

In total Nico completed 90 laps and ended up 7th with a 1:19.977s. Just remember that at this stage that  laptimes count for absolutely nothing due to differing fuel loads, and engine modes etc. etc. Infact we'll only really know the true pace of the car at the first qualifying session of the season!

So what did Nico think? Here is what he has to say:

"It wasn't so much about the performance today, it was about getting some laps in, getting some mileage and trying to recover a bit from yesterday. I think we have a good baseline now and we can be pleased with how the day went [we think he meant to say how the first test went]. The chassis feels good, and we have a pretty good platform on which we can start developing, so its generally pretty positive. The first day [for him in the VJM05] is about getting me comfortable in the car - it obviously took me some time to get used to it again after two and half months. You never stop learning".

"You know it happens. [about Jules Bianchi's crash yesterday] I did stuff like that as well. It was frustrating certainly, and you never fully recover the time back, but I can understand these things happen. Formula 1 is a tricky sport, you need experience. We made the most of today and now we just move on. I think we have a good baseline now, but on the other hand there is still room for improvement and work ahead of us. I haven't compared data to other cars yet, not even Paul, so now we have to analyse that".

Here is some data from the test:

Total number of laps completed - Jerez Test
1) Lotus (402)
2) Williams (372)
3) Caterham (358)
4) Mercedes (347) - in 2011 car.
5) Sauber (336)
6) Toro Rosso (316)
7) McLaren (311)
8) Force India (308)
9) Red Bull (296)
10) Ferrari (270)
11) HRT (108) - in 2011 car.
12) Marussia (0) - not in attendance.

Clearly day three (where Bianchi crashed) cost the team in terms of mileage. However, two top teams (Red Bull and Ferrari) completed less laps than Force India so if the laps the team did make have been used efficiently then there is no need to worry :-)

Combined Best Times - Jerez Test (Force India)
1) Di Resta (1:19.772, day 1)
2) Hulkenberg (1:19.977s, day 4)
3) Bianchi (1:20.221, day 2)
4) Di Resta (1:20.272, day 2)

Interviews - Di Resta & Parthiva

It's all busy in F1 again as the first pre-season took place in Jerez. Every team looking for the right set-up, the all important data from the new car and of course lots of interviews with the media. All popping up questions about the new car, contracts, season hopes and what not.

Here is an interview of Paul Di Resta taken by the F1.com where he talks about VJM05, on the team & Dr. Mallya's aim of achieving P5 in Constructors Championship, his personal aims for the second season, his ex-teammate Sutil and lots more. On VJM05 he says, "The VJM05 is not just an evolution of last year's car- there are some pretty big new parts there based on our new philosophy and we are very confident that it will deliver." On a funny note he says, "Well, the front nose is different, the exhausts are pointing in a different direction, the colour code is different and it has black tyres.. (laughs) That's all I can tell you - the other things are hush, hush, top secret! (laughs)." You can read the whole interview here.

Moving from F1, The Hindu (Indian newspaper) took an exclusive interview with Parthiva Sureshwaren. In the interview he talks about how he started with racing, difficulties he faced to get to the level he is in, his upcoming F2 season, fitness and his aim to become the third Indian F1 driver and lots more. It's a very candid interview, click here to read.

09/02/2012

Force India news roundup!

Let's start with today's crash victim, Jules Bianchi.

He has announced a deal to race in the Formula Renault 3.5 championship in 2012, alongside his Force India duties, with the Tech 1 team. This may seem a bit strange to those of you who are aware that Jules has spent the last two seasons in GP2, but this is not necessarily a step back.

The issue with GP2 is that it does not work well with the F1 calendar in terms of availability. Formula Renault 3.5 does though and so he will have to enjoy his racing there!

I think this shows brilliant commitment to motorsport, he must be really eager to race full-time, great attitude!

Jules said:

"I am very happy to be driving for Tech 1 Racing in the 2012 Formula Renault 3.5 Series. this year is very important for my career and, as a young driver, it's crucial to have the opportunity to race in such a competitive environment. I will do my best to help the team to achieve its goals this season. I also would like to thank Scuderia Ferrari and Sahara Force India F1 for allowing me to do so".


Some quite sad news now; Dominic Harlow has moved to Williams! At Force India Dominic was chief race engineer however he has decided to make the switch with immediate effect. Why anyone would want to move from Force India to Williams at this stage is beyond me, but perhaps i'm biased. Where does this leave Force India? Well finding someone just as good won't be an issue as there are many talented engineers out there, perhaps we will see an internal promotion ... it's just sad to see Dominic go, he's been with Force India from day one. Nevertheless we wish him well!

Finally for now, do you remember this article about Adrian Sutil's suspended sentence? Well the latest is that Adrian will appeal the decision, and rightly so in my opinion! Really hoping for the best for him! We'll post more on that story as we get it.

Jerez - day three

Results: Bianchi No Time Set

The plan for today was more mileage through first Jules Bianchi in the morning and then Nico Hulkenberg in the afternoon. That didn't out to be the case however.

On Bianchi's third installation run the Frenchman lost control of the VJM05, skidding across the gravel and tapping the tyre barrier with the rear right hand corner of the car. That incident was the first crash of 2012 and it brought out the first red flag of the day.



Binachi was okay, infact the impact wasn't that big and the damage was minimal. The problem however is that spare parts needed to be flown in from the teams base in Silverstone ... the parts did not arrive in time for the end of the session and so there were only two installation laps completed for Force India today.

Jules is a rookie so we expect him to make these mistakes, it's better that it happens now than in a Friday practice session so there is nothing to worry about at this stage :-) Hulkenberg will not be a happy driver however, he has still yet to drive the car. He should be driving all day tomorrow however, let's see how many laps he can clock up!

Bianchi said:

"
I made a small mistake on my second run. The tyres were a bit cold and I spun into the gravel and touched the wall with the right rear wheel. It was not a very big impact, but it caused some damage. I'm very sorry because my mistake has cost the team a lot of time and effort. Going away from here I want to focus on the positives because we had a very good day yesterday and I've really enjoyed working with the team this week".

Technical director Andrew Green added:

"a bit frustrating to lose some track time today, but we will take it on the chin because we had two very productive days earlier in the week with plenty of mileage. The damage to the car was not that significant, but a lack of spares at this time of year meant we could not go back out in the afternoon. The car will be ready for tomorrow morning when Nico gets his test programme underway. We will resume the aero work we started this morning and make the most of the tyres that we saved from today's limited running".

In addition to this we have more Force India news coming your way in a news roundup article within the next ten minutes, stay tuned for that! :-)

08/02/2012

Jerez - day two

Results: Bianchi 4th (1:20.221s), Di Resta 6th (1m20.272s).

Another productive day for Force India with both Jules Bianchi and Paul Di Resta clocking up 115 laps for team. Mileage is still the aim for the Indian team at this stage; interestingly Force India are the only team to complete more than 100 laps on both days of the test so far (101 yesterday and 115 today) - in total that's 957km of running!

Initially things look very positive for the VJM05. After yesterday's test Paul said:

"If we look at where we were this time last year and where we are now it's a massive step up the road, it's almost three seconds already, but then the end of last year was very good for us. All I can say is that has been a very productive day and we can be happy with what we have done. We got through all the test programme and we did a bit more actually, we had a good approach about what we had to do. We had some aero stuff this morning that led on to some runs and then we did some long runs in the afternoon and it was all fairly good. I think we can be relatively quite happy about the work we've done over the winter and what the guys have achieved".

"Obviously all the fancy engine modes have gone and the exhausts and essentially you've lost a ton of downforce there, but the car is well balanced and where we put it on track is where we ended up, which gives you encouragement about what's going on in the background with simulations and stuff, and that it is working right because that's where we have migrated to. The whole thing seems a lot better, but you know we've achieved 101 laps on the first day out, so the mileage and the reliability was good which is always a positive. Now all this test is about is gathering information. It's not about performance. You know somebody said to me earlier: 'Who was fastest at this test last year?' and I didn't know, and they replied: 'Barrichello'. I couldn't tell you who was fastest at Barcelona last year but I can tell you who was fastest at the first race, and that's all this test is fundamentally about - us correlating what is happening back at the factory to make sure the next upgrade that we bring, hopefully before Melbourne, works. So you just need to make sure that the car is saying the same thing that the tunnel is saying. And, on the track it feels relatively balanced and I'm very happy with it. It's a good starting point to work away with".

What about our other driver? Nico Hulkenberg. He spent the day filming with German TV channel RTL which included a photoshoot and interview.

(click to enlarge)

Meanwhile our three other drivers, the academy boys (Arjun Maini, Jehan Daruvala and Tarun Reddy) were in action today at a pre-season kart test in Italy! If we have any news on how they performed we will let you know :-)

All in all a very busy day for everyone associated with Force India.

Combined Best Times - Jerez Test (Force India)
1) Di Resta (1:19.772, day 1)
2) Bianchi (1:20.221, day 2)
3) Di Resta (1:20.272, day 2)

07/02/2012

Jerez - day one

Result: Di Resta 2nd (1:19.772s).

It was clear Force India's focus was milage during the first day of 2012 testing. In total Paul Di Resta completed 101 laps which was more than anyone else apart from Kobayashi (who completed 106).

(click to enlarge)

Although it's hard to pick up anything from laptimes due to varying fuel, tyres and aero packages it's still interesting to analyse. Paul's fastest lap put him 2nd just over a tenth behind session leader Raikkonen. The Scottish driver was a whopping three seconds ahead of Massa's Ferrari in 9th; but once again - let's not read too much into that at this stage!

All in all a productive day and no major problems, let's hope for more of the same tomorrow! :-)

06/02/2012

Further thoughts on the VJM05

Here are Darshan and my (Peter)'s thoughts on the new VJM05 - enjoy!

Darshan Chokhani

I was not at home when the launch took place though I had hoped to be but while outside I managed to check on the car via my mobile. The first picture I saw had a side view of the front end of the car, I could see the platypus nosecone and parts of the new colour pattern. My first reaction, “so we too have what people term as ‘ugly’ noscecone”, but my stand remained if that’s what regulation demands and improves the car performance then so be it.

I went through all the pictures and read some analysis about the car, all positive must say. My view is that the colour pattern is nice and new, every year they change the pattern which is a good thing to do. The most striking thing which I liked was the green colour used in the front wing. Talking about front wing, this is a completely new design by the team which looks quite complicated. The sidepods were the next thing which was slightly different from previous year while the airbox was totally new from last year. Coming to the nose, the unusual part is the “black rod” giving the nose a hammerhead shape which adds to the oddness of the nosecone.

Overall, I think VJM05 is an aggressive design and could pose a challenge to the lower top teams such as Lotus & Mercedes. At least, I hope that this is the scenario as last season the team ended on quite a high and surely they would want to take it to the next level.

Peter Santamaria-Woods
Unlike Darshan i was online at home during the launch. This first picture i saw was via twitter and it was of the car under a black sheet in preparation for the unveiling. From the way the sheet was sitting on the car it was quite clear that the team had gone for a dipped nose design; not pretty, but could be quick!

As the car was unveiled i actually thought to myself "what an ugly looking car" ... i didn't even like the livery design! Don't get me wrong i love the colours but initially thought the VJM04 design was better. After further analysis and inspection however the livery design grew on me and i have to say i've now done a complete u-turn as i love it! Although i can't say i like the idea of changing the livery year on year the VJM05 does look bloody good! :-)

What i have been impressed with about the VJM05 is the way that it's received unanimous praise; even from technical minds! Although we won't know the cars speed until it hits the track the Force India sure does look more aerodynamic than the other cars launched so far including McLaren and Ferrari, but only time will tell!

5th in the constructors is the target this season but i think more may even be possible! I think we could beat Mercedes and Renault based on outright speed (we were very close last season with no $100M investment) plus i also think McLaren will have a poor season to due to some oversights in car design (e.g. they are the only team so far to not have a dipped nose). People make the argument that to finish in the top five we will have to beat an ex-World Championship winner but let's not forget we have already done that with Williams!

Perhaps this is all wishful thinking however ... only time will tell!

05/02/2012

Reserve driver projects

Along with Force India reserve driving duties which includes runs in the VJM05 in at least nine Friday practice sessions, Jules Bianchi has stated his desire to race elsewhere to keep his mileage and experience up. He stated:

"We are working on it, we are not sure yet, but I will try to have another programme as well"

His manager Nicolas Todt added:

"I think it's important for Jules to keep driving, keep racing. At least nine Fridays is good, but it's not huge mileage. With Ferrari and Force India we are looking at different possibilities. The main thing is I am very pleased that Jules has signed as third driver at Force India, because we have seen in the past it is the best team for giving a chance to young drivers. They know how to work with young drivers, and it is the best opportunity he could have apart from a race drive in Formula 1".

Looking elsewhere, Indian driver Karun Chandhok has helped to expand the lower level racing series he is associated with into Europe.

From the 2012 season the JK Racing Asia Series will have races at Paul Ricard (France) and Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) in addition to those already on the 2011 calendar which includes the Buddh International Circuit (India).

CEO of motorsport Asia, David Sonenscher, said the following:

"We are constantly looking at ways to move this championship forward and provide the best training ground for future champions. All of the circuits listed on our calendar will be vital for the future of any driver's career and will offer them unrivalled experience at this level. Ricard is the only track that does not currently host Formula 1 but I hear that this may change soon. By running in Europe we give our Asian drivers an opportunity to experience European motorsport before they make a full transition and at the same time it puts us in front of the Europeans who can then see the quality of this championship first hand. No other such series provides this kind of platform for junior drivers. Usually when they graduate from karting, they will compete on a National level or at best a Continental level. This has never been done before. Any thoughts of this being done in the past would have raised concerns over the level of the budgets required, however, the series organiser motorsport Asia has worked very hard with the teams to keep the costs at a surprisingly affordable level. In fact, they are not expecting any significant increase in driver participation costs. We have always been very competitive in that respect and I think it is safe to say that we will continue to be so. I think drivers will find the costs pretty amazing, especially when you look at what you are going to get for it. I encourage any driver who has not signed a deal yet for 2012 to take a close look at this championship".

04/02/2012

VJM05 - Technical analysis/details

The VJM05 was launched yesterday and since then all the analysts have gone down analysing the car, the modifications made, the new parts and all the technical details. Here is Gary Anderson (ex-Force India), BBC analyst who shared his thoughts on the new VJM05 to Reuters.

"Looking at their car, relative to other people's, I see a car here that I believe is a big step forward. And they weren't slow at the end of last year. As I said to (technical director) Andrew (Green), you could be a pain in the ass for quite a few of the guys up front. I'm not saying they will go out and beat Red Bull, Mclaren or Ferrari but I think they (the top teams) could be looking at these guys lap times just to make sure they are not going to get beaten. The whole concept looks to me as though it functions. The move of the front wing from last year to this is for me absolutely excellent. The concept, the vision of it is what I'd liked to have seen...unless there's a real Achilles heel in there somewhere, I think it will be pretty good".

Click here for the whole article on Reuters. For those interested in more analysis of the VJM05, you can read this article, gives you a nice detailed description of the new car.

03/02/2012

Paddock Chatter!

It's been a busy day of news today; Force India revealed their 2012 challenger, the VJM05, and Narain Karthikeyan re-signed for HRT for the forthcoming season.

Here is what everyone had to say:

Force India VJM05

Vijay Mallya (Force India's team principle/managing director): 
"We have set our sights on challenging for fifth place. To do so we will need to begin the new campaign by delivering the kind of form we showed in the second half of 2011. I believe this is a realistic goal and that we have the talent and determination to realise these ambitions".

Robert Fernley (Force India's deputy team principal):
"I think the team now has got to a position where the reconstruction plan has really come to the fruition of its objectives. We have to look for where we can go to compete with the top four or five. That's another programme and that's what we're discussing. I don't think Vijay will accept anything less than fifth". 

"I was pleased we didn't finish fifth [in 2011] in some ways because then [the target] would've been fourth. It's going to be tough. All the teams out there are capable of fifth, and I think the battle for fifth place is going to be as exciting as the battle at the top. All the teams have got talented people who are just as focused as we are and it's not going to be an easy ride by any means".

"I don't think we are taking a gamble [on a young driver lineup]. Driver succession is important to us. I think outside of, or maybe including, the top four, we've got one of the most exciting driver lineups, so I'm not worried at all". The system Force India operate with bringing them through one year [as reserve drivers] makes the difference with them being able to be competitive from day one. It's a very clearly thought out process."

[About dropping Adrian Sutil] "It was a very difficult decision, Adrian did have an exceptional season, he is an extremely talented driver, and as importantly an extremely nice person who fitted in well with the team. But we had to look at where we felt our long-term strengths lay. Adrian had been with us for a number of years, and we genuinely believed the future with us was with Paul and Nico. It wasn't something we rushed into, but we had very clear ideas as to where we wanted to build the team for the future. It was a close decision, and we felt it was time for Adrian to gain experience outside of Force India. We also looked at the whole package, in terms of his raw speed, what he was doing for the team in terms of feedback, knowledge and everything else, and we felt Nico edged it".

[About Adrian's court case] "What I am not sure of, and we've not been able to take it in yet, is what the impact will be on Adrian's racing career. We were under enormous pressure after China last year to do something about it. But Vijay and I were very clear that Adrian was innocent until proven guilty, and that we were there to support him, and not to undermine him in any way. I'm disappointed for Adrian because I don't think he deserves it, he doesn't have a bad thought or bone in his body. It wasn't typical of him at all. I don't think it will affect him totally, but sponsors and everybody else might have some different views. From our point of view it wouldn't have affected us. Vijay and Sahara are strong enough to be able to say what we want is talent, he made a mistake, he's been judged, and we'll go on. However, I don't know how other teams will look at it, and I also don't know the legal implications, such as can he go into China? They are things we would have to understand if he was with us".

Otmar Szafnauer (Force India's chief operating officer):
"The new car has come together nicely over the winter. We don't know what our competitors have done, but we’ve made some gains over the winter and believe we're in reasonable shape. It's going to be difficult in the midfield, but our focus is on starting strongly and improving our position from last season".

Andrew Green (Force India's technical director):
"We think most will follow our philosophy [about the dippy nose]. It is an aero philosophy that McLaren apply to the front of their car, last year they were the only team to apply that. There's a regulation change on the nose height and we went with the drop nose. For us, it's not big deal, it's purely aesthetics".
 

[About the 5th place target] "It's a big ask for a small team like ourselves but I've got a lot of confidence in the team around me, we learned a lot last year and made big strides in our understanding of car performance and aerodynamics. We are taking that another step this year, you can see that in the detail on the car and see the new aero philosophies coming through on it. This is another chapter for Force India. [last year] We were a little bit late to the party and I don't think we extracted its full potential by a long way," said Green. I think there are teams out there that extracted way more than we did and hopefully that will hurt them more than it's going to hurt us. We spent the winter trying to salvage back all that downforce that it cost us and we're getting closer".
 

[About the new technical regulations] "My feeling is that it should close the field up, I think you need to look at Silverstone, where the regs changed for a fraction of a second, and the grid did appear to close up. The biggest change for us is the aerodynamic philosophy on the car, starting on the front and the new front wing, which sets up all the basic structures down the car, that's a big step for us. It took us quite a long time getting ourselves out of the old philosophy. We did some testing last year trying to move away from it and then we used that knowledge over the winter to come up with the new concept at the front. It's a big departure from where we have been before, and the tunnel numbers are really, really encouraging so we're quite looking forward to getting on the track and seeing if it does produce what it should do". 

Andrew also did a Q&A session with F1.com here.

Paul Di Resta (Force India driver):
“Seeing the new car built and complete for the first time is always an exciting moment. It’s when you realise that all the waiting is finally over and the season is beginning for real. I’ve had a good winter and I’ve recharged my batteries, but now I’m fully focused on 2012 and looking forward to the start of testing. There’s a really positive feeling in the team, good stability and hopefully we can pick up where we left off at the end of last year.”

"The big thing we're going for is a stronger start than last year, because the momentum at the end of the year was incredible, i think the guys should be very proud of what they've achieved. We're still on a buzz from that and it would be great to start where we left off. We were very close to coming fifth as a constructor last year and we met our ambition of coming sixth. We want to do better, that's the main focus. We'll just keep pushing on".

"I think there's always pressure in any sport but yeah there's a little more as I'm not a rookie anymore, there is that nature there to try and beat your teammate, but we're there to represent Force India and you need to look at the whole team".

"[The threat posed by a third driver] always concerns you, because how stable is Formula 1 at the moment? You need to focus on your own driving. But one thing you can say about what Force India have done - it's a great way to get involved in Formula 1."

Paul also did a Q&A session with F1.com here.

Nico Hulkenberg (Force India driver):
"I saw the new car in the wind tunnel a few times and followed its progress during the winter. It looks aggressive and fast, but we won’t know where we stand until we get out there and compete against the others. Preparations for the new season have been full-on with simulator sessions and lots of fitness training. I feel ready to get back to racing and I’m excited to find out what the new car feels like next week".

"A year on the sidelines wasn't easy for me but I had a great year with Force India, they gave me lots of chances to prove my talent on Friday mornings. I kept sharp that way and now I'm back. I think I still improved and learned, but in different ways. I picked up some things that might help me in races".

Nico did a Q&A session for F1.com too, read it here.

Jules Bianchi (Force India's reserve driver):
"For the moment we have a minimum of nine Friday mornings, so it's going to be really important, the track time in Formula 1 is really useful for a young driver like me. I will just try to do my best, try to show the team I deserve more. I am reserve driver, I will stay in this position and try to help them as much as I can.

Gary Anderson (BBC and Autosport Technical analyst/correspondent):
[About Force India] "I'm impressed and, including what I've seen of the Ferrari, this looks like the best overall package yet, the car looks very good in all areas. The exhausts are a bit non-committal, but that can change easily".

If you have not yet done so I urge you to take a look at the awesome pictures of the VJM05 on the SkySportsF1 website here.

Narain's HRT Deal


Narain Karthikeyan (HRT's second driver):
"I wasn't driving the car regularly [last year] but got up to speed very quickly, that's when I knew that I should try and stay if there was a possibility. Things came together although obviously there was a lot of competition for the seat. Four or five drivers with budgets were trying to get the seat, but the team believes that I am fast."

"The team changes were good changes, the new management has a strong structure and financial backing for the project. There are a lot of positives. A good example is Pedro [Narain's teammate]. He could have had an easy life and stayed as a McLaren test driver, but he has come here because he knows that the team has a big future. I have a similar outlook to Pedro. Everything is in place and we should be in a good position. Things don't change overnight and we will have to wait and see how the new car is, but it will be a decent package."

Read a Q&A session Narain did with F1.com here.

That's everything for now!! If you've come this far and read everything in this article then you certainly are a true Indian Motorsport fan - kudos to you :-)

Karthikeyan - deal is done!

As a result of the chaos caused by the Force India and Ferrari launches earlier today one pretty big story has been overlooked ...

Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan has surprised everybody by signing a deal to race for HRT next season to complete the grid for 2012.

HRT have been in F1 since 2010 meaning that 2012 will be the teams 3rd year in the sport. Back in 2010 they sacked Indian driver Karun Chandhok midway through the season. In 2011 they sacked Karthikeyan midway through the season ... let's hope their trend of sacking Indian drivers does not continue. This is exactly why this deal is so surprising; the manner in which Narain was sacked last season resulted in the Indian thereatning legal action against the Spanish team (for not running him but still cashing in on his sponsor money); and so no-one expected the two parties to make up. The deal is also surprising because many other top drivers do not have a drive in 2012 (Adrian Sutil, Rubens Barrichello, Vitaly Petrov). Although we do know however that Jamie Alguersuari was offered the second HRT seat before Narain, but the Spanish driver rejected.

The other issue with a HRT drive is that, based on previous seasons at least, their car is so slow in comparison to other teams that it's hard to show talent. Many have driven for HRT in the past, the majority of which are no longer in F1. On the other hand, Bruno Senna has proven that career progression from HRT is possible (drove for them in 2010, now at Lotus in 2012).

Anyhow we wish Narain the best of luck for 2012 of course! Let's hope HRT allow him to get to the end of the season this time!!

Force India VJM05 is here!

(click to enlarge)

We all knew today was the day the wraps were to be taken off the VJM05 which is the car that will contest the 2012 FIA F1 World Championship to represent Force India. Everybody was waiting with baited breath to see if the team had gone for a dippy nose (like Caterham) or a streamlined nose (like McLaren).

(click to enlarge)

The cover was taken off and the VJM05 was born! The car is radically different from the VJM04 (2011 car). The obvious changes included a dipped nose (like Caterham and as discovered very shortly after the Force India launch, like Ferrari too) and also a slight change of colour scheme. In addition some sponsors have been shuffled around on the car; Sahara is FAR more visible. For more pictures of the car visit our facebook page here.
 

In comparison to other 2012 cars our sidepods seem to have far more curvature which could improve airflow past the rear wing. Of course there are more changes but analysis of the technical changes will take time :-)

We asked for your thoughts on the new car via facebook and here they are:


Sümìt Síngh Lódhì: "Nose looks little ugly but all rest of the car is looking good :)"

Ritesh Tripathy: "Good paint job but odd duck-billed platypus nose that seems to be all the rage this season, even the new Ferrari has one. Rest of the car looks good and I have a feeling this car is going to be pretty quick"

Pankaj Picasso: "This car till date looks very sleek and beautiful in shape wise as well as color scheme luks different.. nice over all car is good looking and i hope it will b one of the fastest cars challenging big boys up d order..."

This article will be updated later today with thoughts from the team, we'll give you a heads up on facebook! :-)

02/02/2012

Force India's Otmar Szafnauer interview

This is an interesting interview of Otmar Szafnauer, Force India's sporting director, by the German tabloid Auto Motor Und Sports. We get some great insight over the teams working and the thought process which goes behind all the decision.

Otmar admitted that the team could have ended P5 or maybe even P4 in CC in 2011 if they had done better in first 3-4 races in the season. He revealed that there are 310 people working with the team with 212 at the factory and 98 in the aero department in Brackley. He even revealed that their simulator will be operational in February which they are integrating: 

We are in the process of integrating our own simulator. He will be fully operational in February, which is intended only for development work. In McLaren simulator, we work on the set. The capacities are there, not to operate, parallel vehicle development. About the upgrade of the wind tunnel, we decided early this year.”

He said the losses of James Key & Mark Smith was not a problem as they were replaced by Andy Green whom they knew since Jordan days. He also acknowledged the pit stops improvements as they ended 4th overall in pit stops time while they were 2nd in the list of most lap completed. On asked about the problems they faced at the start of 2011 season he said:
  
“It took us a while to figure out what is the concept of the two exhaust/diffuser variations was the better. During the tests we had not yet fully understood. Then it took two months for the respective parts were produced. The front chassis was a bit soft, because we had used new materials. We have detected the error and fixed quickly. The same was true for the rear wing. We had a stall at the back flap of the DRS.”

He also touched upon various other topics including the advantage and disadvantage of running reserve driver on Friday and the teams in-season developments during 2011 season. For full interview click here, it is in German however!

i1 super series postponed!

Much to the disappointment of Indian Motorsport fans the scheduled inaugural i1 super series has been postponed until 2013.

This decision has been made by series organiser Machdar Motorsports for a number of reasons such as clashes with political elections, unavailability of drivers and teams and conflict over franchise ownership. Read more on the reasons behind the decision here.

Naturally this is very disappointing however i actually believe this to be a good thing! Many things appeared to have been rushed with regards to this series. For instance, the franchises hadn't even all been confirmed yet and also some drivers did not yet know which events they would be participating in.

Delaying the series until 2013 gives the organisers time to ... well, organise! Furthermore they can promote the series and try get more people interested. When it does happen, it will be awesome, but we'll have to wait a little longer than initially expected for the excitement to begin.

We'll be updating our i1 super series page, actually, all our pages in the next few weeks so keep an eye out for that! :-)