Force India’s VJM05 For Fifth?
From a publicity point of view, I’m not sure if it’s brave or mad to launch a new car the same day as Ferrari but that’s precisely what Sahara Force India did. However, fortune was on their side and while Ferrari found themselves snowed in and having to scale back their big day, Force India became the first team to hit the track for a shakedown ahead of the first test. But will their luck continue in 2012 to see them maintain their steady climb up the standings?
Force India were possibly the most impressive team through the 2011 season. At the start of the year they were one of the favourites to join the so called “new teams” in going in Q1; by the end of it they were a regular feature of Q3. It was enough to have a free-falling Renault looking nervously over their shoulder as the Vijay Mallya’s outfit closed in. In the end, Force India fell just short but sixth place was their best finish yet, having improved year-on-year. Moreover and almost unnoticed, Adrian Sutil landed up ninth in the drivers’ standings – his prize is to find himself on the sidelines as team mate Paul di Resta took all the plaudits. However, it all leaves Force India keen to take another step up the ladder.
Unsurprisingly, Force India have also adopted a stepped nose to maximise the airflow under it (it would be surprising if anyone other McLaren didn’t go this way.) However, the VJM05’s design is less dramatic than both Caterham’s and Ferrari’s. The effect has also partly been lessened by a variation of the livery that was introduced last year – stepped angles are everywhere!
Less attractive on the nose is the camera mounting at its tip rather further back or on the front wing uprights. Elsewhere, the car looks sleeker. Sharply undercut sidepods taper back to a narrow rear which exploits a smaller and lighter McLaren gearbox. Like Caterham and Mercedes before them, the rollblade has been abandoned for a conventional rollhoop. “I would say that the car looks a lot more refined than previous cars produced here,” says Andrew Green, the team’s technical director. “It does look a lot racier and a lot more purposeful. You can start to see the aerodynamic concepts coming through now.”
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Force India have potentially one of the most exciting driver line-ups on the grid. Paul di Resta was the stand-out rookie of last year and is joined by Nico Hulkenberg – between them they have a string of titles in the junior categories. However, Hulkenberg failed to shine at Williams, despite a surprise pole position in a rainy Brazilian qualifying session, and yet his dominant GP2 title at the first attempt more than hints at his potential. One thing the team have managed to take away from Ferrari is their reserve driver as Jules Bianchi takes over the third driver role.
Whatever happens in 2012, Force India clearly have no fear about gambling on the talent of the future.
What do you make of Force India’s VJM05? Can they make regular forays into Q3 of qualifying? Will they be able to finish fifth or better in the Constructors’ Championship? Let us know your thoughts in the comments…
Credit: Sahara Force India Formula One Team