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Team Biography


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Team Biography

Force India is the latest incarnation of Jordan, the Silverstone-based team Eddie Jordan sold to Alex Shnaider in January 2005, thereby bringing the Irish team's F1 endeavours to an end after fourteen years. For that season the team continued to run as Jordan before morphing into Midland for 2006.

It was in September 2006, during the Italian GP weekend, that Shnaider sold the team to Spyker Cars NV, the Dutch high performance car manufacturer. One year later, days after the 2007 Belgian GP, it was officially confirmed that Spyker was selling the team to a consortium led by Indian businessman Vijay Mallya and Michiel Mol for 88m euros.

Billionaire Mallya, who enjoys a high profile in India, where he is an MP in addition to being chairman of both the Federation of Motorsports Clubs in India (FMSCI) and Motorsport Association of India (MAI), was keen to raise his country's profile, and in addition to purchasing Spyker and renaming the team Force India, has been instrumental in getting India its own Grand Prix.

Under new ownership, Spyker saw out the remaining races of the 2007 season with a new livery but retained Sutil and Yamamoto, the German getting the new relationship off to the best possible start by scoring a point in Japan, the first race under the team's new ownership.

Over the course of the two final tests of 2007 the team ran a number of hopefuls as it sought to define its line-up for 2008, amongst those pounding the tarmac at Barcelona and Jerez were Giancarlo Fisichella, Ralf Schumacher, Christian Klien, Tonio Liuzzi, Franck Montagny, Roldan Rodriguez and Adrian Sutil, who seemed a shoe-in for one of the 2008 seats anyway.

After weeks of speculation, at a special ceremony in Mumbai on 10 January, Mallya confirmed his line-up, with Fisichella and Sutil taking the race seats and Liuzzi assuming the role of test driver.

Mallya was at pains to warn that race fans should not expect too much too soon, however, he was also keen to point out that Force India is a descendent of Jordan, a proven GP winner, with many of the original personnel still in place.

If nothing else, in the short term Mallya's arrival meant Force India had a decent budget, certainly compared to the previous couple of seasons.

However, armed with the VJM01 a derivative of the Spyker F8-V11, which was itself a derivative of the 2006 Midland M16, the Silverstone-based team was always going to be up against it in its first season proper.

Mark Smith was brought in from Red Bull, to join Mike Gascoyne, the duo having previously worked together at both Jordan and Renault. Smith was handed the role of 'Design Director', and given the immediate job of overseeing both the 2008 and 2009 cars.

2008 was always going to be an interim year, however, by season end, despite the obvious handicaps, the Silverstone outfit was giving Honda a run for its money, though perhaps that says more about the Brackley team.

The 2007 car was re-bodied and the team updated its windtunnel, with further work being done in the Lola and Aerolab facilities.

The introduction of a new quick-shift gearbox and a major aerodynamic upgrade at Silverstone clearly made a difference, but in all honesty it was too little too late. The Ferrari powerplant did its bit, as expected, but Mallya knew that if his team was to make improvements serious changes were needed.

The precise details of the deal are unknown, but shortly after the end of the season, following weeks of speculation, it was announced that a deal had been done with McLaren and Mercedes. While the German manufacturer would provide engines, McLaren would be responsible for gearboxes, hydraulic systems and operational support. McLaren Mercedes would also provide the Silverstone team with a KERS system.

However, this was not all. A number of highly respected people moved across to Silverstone, most notably Simon Roberts, who was appointed Chief Operating Officer. Indeed, according to Pitpass sources, McLaren personnel now populate most key departments at Force India, even in marketing. Mike Gascoyne, not for the first time, left the Dadford Road facility before his contract had expired, while (Design Director) Mark Smith and (Technical Director) James Key were given joint responsibility for the design of the VJM02.

The McLaren deal led to talk of Force India becoming the Woking outfit's B-team, and when Ron Dennis announced that he was standing down as Team Principal some people started putting two and two together and coming up with all manner of scenarios, most of them highly unlikely.

Neither driver was really given the opportunity to shine in 2008 however, there were two obvious landmark moments. The first was Fisichella's twelfth place on the grid at Monza while the other was Sutil's superb performance at Monaco, where a sure-fire fourth place was snatched away by Kimi Raikkonen's out-of-control Ferrari.

Both drivers were retained for 2009, the Italian now the second most experienced driver on the grid. Tonio Liuzzi was also kept on as test driver though under the new testing rules it was unclear - as was the case with so many other test drivers - what exactly he'd be doing.

When Mallya first came into F1 there was speculation as to his staying power indeed, the depth of his pockets however, the deals with McLaren and Mercedes indicated he was in for the long haul and fully prepared to bankroll the team and its ambitions.

While the record books will show that Force India scored 13 points in 2009, that in no way tells the full story, far from it. The raft of new regulations which meant that all the teams were starting with the same blank piece of paper, not to mention the drive to reduce budgets, was always going to work in favour of the Silverstone-based outfit. While there was also the McLaren-Mercedes deal, many were of the opinion that this was done too late to have any significant impact on Force India's 2009 season. They were wrong.

Originally designed for the Ferrari engine and KERS package, it was all hands on deck as technical director James Key, chief aerodynamicist Simon Philips and design director Mark Smith worked to accommodate the Mercedes FO108W powerplant, the McLaren gearbox and Mercedes KERS system.

For much of the season the team was "one development step behind," Key was to admit, nonetheless once the FIA had given its blessing to the double diffuser the Silverstone outfit was the first team to have one on both of its cars (Bahrain). Key subsequently admitted that over the off-season his team had looked at the concept of the double diffuser but was convinced it would never be allowed.

Once again, the team suffered appalling bad luck with Sutil skidding off in China when seemingly destined to take sixth place ahead of Lewis Hamilton, while at the Nurburgring the hapless German was forced to make an extra stop after crashing into Raikkonen when leaving the pits. At one stage he had been running as high as second.

Race by race the VJM02 was clearly improving and by the time the 'circus' arrived in Spa - for the first of the season's two seriously low-downforce races - the car was truly on song.

Up to this point Force India had struggled in qualifying, Sutil's 7th in Germany one of the rare occasions when the team made it into Q3. However, all that changed in Belgium where Fisichella took pole.

To prove that this was no fluke and that his team had finally arrived, Giancarlo finished a highly impressive second in the race, a Safety Car at the very start of the race robbing him of what could have been his team's first win. Finishing just 0.939s behind Kimi Raikkonen, the Italian posted the fastest lap of the race just to prove a point.

At Monza, with Giancarlo now deputising for Massa at Ferrari, Sutil put his car second on the grid while new teammate Liuzzi started from seventh. The following day the German brought the VJM02 home in fourth the Force India only out-paced by the Brawns and the ubiquitous Raikkonen. Liuzzi also seemed destined for a points finish until sidelined by a gearbox failure.

While there were no more points, Sutil did qualify fourth in Japan and third in China, as the Silverstone team continued to punch well above its weight.

Thirteen points and ninth in the championship doesn't begin to tell the story, and while most people regarded Brawn as the true fairytale of 2009 spare a thought for the fantastic efforts of the entire team at Force India.

For 2010, the Silverstone based outfit retained both drivers, while former director of strategy and business planning for the Honda F1 Team Otmar Szafnauer was recruited as chief operating officer taking over from Simon Roberts who headed back to McLaren Applied Technologies after just one year at Dadford Road. Elsewhere, highly rated technical director James Key was pinched by Sauber.

While the stats might not support it, the fact is that Force India continued to punch above its weight in 2010, albeit in less dramatic fashion than the previous year.

Starting the season around a second off the pace of the Red Bulls, the gap was about the same by the end of they year. Where the Silverstone based outfit lost out however, is that by then it had been eclipsed by both Williams and Sauber.

As it tried to focus on development, like so many of its rivals, precious resources needed to be diverted in order to copy the two biggest innovations of the year, the F-duct and the blown diffuser.

Sticking with the Mercedes engine/McLaren gearbox package that had proved so successful in 2009, the VJM03 was an improvement in that it was better across a wider rage of tracks, whereas the VJM02 was at its best mainly when high downforce wasn't required.

While the team introduced its F-duct in Turkey, the blown diffuser made its race debut in Belgium having been tried during the free practice sessions in Hungary. The team was constantly playing around with its front wing while over the course of the season no less than seven different floors were used.

Although he qualified tenth in Bahrain, Sutil was involved in a first lap clash with Robert Kubica, leaving Liuzzi to open the team's 2010 points account. It was Liuzzi who added a further 6 points in Australia, Sutil suffering an engine problem nine laps into the race, however, the German took advantage of the conditions and rivals' misfortunes to take a splendid 5th in Malaysia.

In Spain the team began a sequence of six races in which it scored points however, in the second half of the season it began to lose ground, the only highlights being Sutil's 5th in Belgium and Liuzzi's 6th in Korea. The Silverstone outfit's failure to score points in the two final races meant that Nico Hulkenberg's eighth place finish in Brazil was enough to see Williams outfit leapfrog it and secure sixth in the Constructors' Championship.

There were no podiums, no front rows - though Sutil did qualify 4th in Malaysia - and no battles with Ferrari, far less Red Bull, but on the whole, it wasn't a bad season for the Silverstone team.

After months of speculation, and even though he had a contract, Liuzzi was eventually dropped in favour of Scotland's Paul di Resta for 2011, the reigning DTM champion joining Sutil in his fourth season with the team. Just to keep them on their toes, in a clever move, the team recruited German hot-shot Nico Hulkenberg as its test and reserve driver.

Going into 2011, of great concern was that behind the scenes the team had lost newly promoted technical director Mark Smith - who had replaced Key - chief designer Lewis Butler, and head of aerodynamics Marianne Hinson, all three heading to Lotus. On the other hand, the Andrew Green designed VJM04 would no doubt benefit from the Silverstone outfit's partnership with McLaren Applied Technologies.

A number of teams experienced a season of two halves in 2011, and so too did Force India. However, while its rivals appeared to drop off as the season progressed, the Indian team grew stronger and by season end was challenging Renault for fifth in the championship.

In the first race of the year in Australia, Sutil and di Resta finished eleventh and twelfth but were subsequently promoted to ninth and tenth after both Saubers were disqualified for a technical infringement. There was another point in Malaysia however, it was Monaco before the team scored again, Sutil bringing his car home in seventh.

In qualifying the team also struggled, though di Resta did well to make it into Q3 in China, starting eighth on the grid however he was to finish the race just outside the points.

The VJM04 was a no frills machine, what some might call conservative. However, it was a solid foundation of a car that could be built upon, which is exactly what the team did. Having scored just twelve points in the first half of the season, from Germany the Silverstone outfit racked up a further fifty-seven.

The drivers, now began to make it into Q3 on a slightly more regular basis - that's when tactical errors didn't let the team down - and were able to make full use of the constant updates, scoring points in every remaining round bar Japan.

Though di Resta was unable to capitalise on his excellent sixth spot on the grid at Silverstone, he made up for it in Hungary when he brought his car home in seventh. In Singapore he finished a strong sixth, ahead of his eighth placed teammate, while the positions were reversed in the season finale in Brazil.

Having overtaken Sauber in the standings the Indian team rapidly hauled in Renault which, following a strong start to its season, was now running out of steam. However, it was not to be, Renault holding on to fifth in the standings by the skin of its teeth (four points), despite having scored just eight points in the last ten races of the season.

In October 2011, it was announced that Sahara India Pariwar had bought into the team - which subsequently became Sahara Force India - injecting a much welcome $100m in return for a 42.5% stake. Vijay Mallya retained another 42.5% while the remaining 15% belongs to the Mol family. The shares sold were newly issued, neither Mallya nor Mol sold any of their existing shares.

Despite the fact that the 2012 line-up was common knowledge, for reasons best known to itself the team left it until mid-December before revealing that Paul di Resta would remain with the team and would be partnered by Nico Hulkenberg.

Having scored the bulk of the team's points, and finished ninth in the championship, Sutil will have felt more than a little irked at the decision, especially as the only vacant seats remaining were at Williams and HRT. However, fact is, di Resta had been impressive, certainly for a rookie, and Hulkenberg was clearly a star of the future. Then again, Sutil's legal problems will have hardly helped.

All in all, it was a strong season for the Silverstone-based team, which, unbelievably, had achieved its best championship result since 2002. However, it had to learn from its mistakes. In 2012 it would need to be competitive straight out of the box and sort out the strategic errors that saw it lose ground in both races and qualifying in 2011.

Once again, 2012 saw Force India - sorry, Sahara Force India - caught up in the war zone that is the midfield, the Silverstone-based outfit battling Sauber, Williams and Toro Rosso. A vast improvement saw Lotus (nee Renault) move up to the nether regions of the battle of the big guns while at times it appeared Mercedes wanted to join in the fun further down the field.

In all honesty, much of the midfield fight in 2012 was between Force India and its Swiss rivals. Once again the Indian team enjoyed a low key start to the season, gaining momentum as the year progressed. Indeed, from Belgium to Brazil the team enjoyed a run of nine races in which it scored points, a feat only managed (and bettered) by five other teams.

At its best on street circuits the VJM05 lost out as its rivals continued to bring on the updates. And there's the rub, for while Force India enjoyed a healthy run of points finishes in the second half of the season it could have been so much better however, as Technical Director Andy Green admitted following the summer shut down the team effectively gave up on development and instead switched focus to 2013. Just a bit more effort, a little more self belief and it is entirely possible that Force India could have beaten Sauber to sixth overall.

Not for the first time, Force India often found itself the centre of speculation over its finances, some sections of the media appearing to have an almost morbid interest in the Silverstone outfit's accounts. However, all that appeared to be dispelled late in the year when Mallya revealed a 50 investment programme.

As expected, the pairing of di Resta and Hulkenberg was strong, though the German clearly had the better season. While the Scot had some strong results, he lost momentum in the second half of the season, especially when it became clear that there wasn't going to be an invite from one of the bigger teams.

In his second full season in F1, Hulkenberg was one of the true stars, the German coming so close to taking a shock win in the season finale at Interlagos, a circuit he clearly enjoys. Whether the move to Sauber was the correct thing to do however, is up for discussion however, the gut feeling at Pitpass is that the Swiss outfit is merely a stepping stone on his way to Ferrari.

With the launch of the VJM06 less than two weeks away, the team had yet to confirm its line-up and while di Resta appeared to be set for a third season, it was unclear whether Jules Bianchi or Sutil would get the nod in terms of the second seat.

Whoever the team chooses to drive its cars, fact is that 50m must be spent wisely and the VJM06 must be quick straight out of the box with development continuing for as long as possible - though that will be a challenge bearing in mind the regulation changes in 2014.

Statistics - at the end of the 2012 Season

Drivers' Titles: 0
Constructors' Titles: 0
Seasons in F1: 5
Grand Prix:93
Wins: 0
Poles: 1
Fastest Laps: 2

Best result in 2012: 4th (Hulkenberg - Belgium)
Best qualifying 2012: 4th (Di Resta - Italy)
Worst qualifying 2012: 24th (Hulkenberg - Italy)

2012: Di Resta out-qualified Hulkenberg 8 times
2012: Hulkenberg out-qualified Di Resta 12 times

2012: Completed 2212 out of 2384 laps (92.8%)
2012: Finished 37 times from 40 starts (92.5%)


Team Principal & Managing Director: Dr. Vijay Mallya

Chairman: Subrata Roy Sahara

Co-owner: Michiel Mol

Deputy Team Principal: Robert Fernley

Chief Operating Officer: Otmar Szafnauer

Sporting Director: Andy Stevenson

Technical Director: Andrew Green

Design Project Leader: Akio Haga
Design Project Leader: Ian Hall

Head of Composites Design: Bruce Eddington
Head of Mechanical Design: Dan Carpenter
Electronics & Control Systems Director: Mike Wroe
Aerodynamics Director: Simon Phillips

Chief Engineer: Jakob Andreason
Race Engineer Car No 14: Gianpiero Lambiase
Race Engineer Car No 15: Bradley Joyce
No 1 Chief Mechanic Car No 15: Greg Borill

Car Build Supervisor: Andy Deeming

Head of Sponsorship, Promotion and Media: Sadie Wigglesworth

Communications Manager: Will Hings

Senior Partner Manager: Carrie Millington

Technical Specifications

Force India VJM06

Chassis: Carbon fibre composite monocoque with Zylon legality side anti-intrusion panels.

Front suspension: Aluminium uprights with carbon fibre composite wishbones, trackrod and pushrod. Inboard chassis mounted torsion springs, dampers and anti-roll bar assembly.

Rear suspension: Aluminium uprights with carbon fibre composite wishbones, trackrod and pullrod. Inboard gearbox mounted torsion springs, dampers and anti-roll bar assembly.

Wheels: BBS forged wheels to Sahara Force India specification

Engine supplier: Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains V8 2.4litre

KERS: Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains

Transmission: McLaren Racing 7-speed, semi-automatic, 'e-shift'

Lubricants: Mobil 1 products

Spark plugs: NGK

Clutch: AP Racing carbon clutch

Tyres: Pirelli

Brake system: AP Racing

Brake material: Brembo


Overall width: 1800mm Overall height: 950mm Overall length: 5100mm Overall weight: 642kg (with driver, by regulations)


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