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Changes behind the scenes at Force India
Posted By: James Allen  |  07 Jan 2011   |  4:29 pm GMT  |  28 comments

The Force India team has yet to decide who will drive its cars, but behind the scenes the team has made some changes to the engineering management.

Dominic Harlow becomes Head of Circuit Engineering, a role which is similar in scope to that of Pat Fry in the new Ferrari set-up. In addition to his role in charge of engineering operations at the races, he takes an overview role on the design and development side. Meanwhile Andy Green moves into the technical director’s chair, replacing Mark Smith, who will soon leave the team to join his mentor Mike Gascoyne at Lotus. Smith had taken the TD role on from James Key, who left Force India for Sauber last Spring.

Photo: Darren Heath


One of the first decisions of the new management team was to take the 2010 car to the first test in Valencia on February 1 and delay the launch of the new car to the second test at Jerez. The thinking behind this is to give the new car longer in the wind tunnel but also to get some solid data on the latest Pirelli tyres using a well sorted reliable car, which will be able to cover a high mileage. Pirelli is bringing a wide range of tyres to the test, rather than the four basic compounds Bridgestone brought last year, so there is much to be gained from running lots of laps and collecting data.

Force India used a similar tactic last season and it paid off for them, as they scored 43 points in the first ten races. “It works for us,” said Harlow. “If you look at last year we are quick from concept to reality because of our size we can gain a good chunk of time by developing early in the year.”

Inevitably the better funded teams outdevelop them as the year goes on because their resources stretch to racing and developing at the same time.

There is also another benefit in that with many teams launching on January 31st, the smaller teams get drowned out and don’t get much airplay. By launching later there will be more attention on the car.

Last year Force India finished seventh in the constructors’ championship, just pipped at the final race by Williams.

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28 Comments
  1. Danny says:

    Off topic, but could you James tell us anymore on the reshuffle at Mercedes? Do you know who will be Schumacher and Rosberg’s race engineers? Thanks

    1. James Allen says:

      Rosberg’s will be Tony Ross, who engineered him at Williams. Jock Clear is going factory based.

      1. Nash says:

        aha… so Dyer joins in with Schumacher?

  2. S.J.M says:

    Have to say, unless they have some big secret in what their car is going to have on it, im a little worried for FI. Loosing personel, particually James Key is a massive blow to them. I fear that a year of just keeping the team competitve in the midfield is the best they can hope for rather then aiming higher then last year. Im not knocking them, FI has come up leaps & bounds in the past few years and each year has been an improvement on the last, but i cant see them making as big a jump this year. I hope this isnt looking like i see doom & gloom over the horizon for FI, i think this could just be a blip year.

    That said, in possibly signing Di Resta or Hulk (presumably alongside Sutil) they will have a good foot in the door. A lot this year depends on how quick Team Lotus/Virgin close the gap, and whether Sauber are able to build on their sucessess of the 2nd half of the season. Williams should still be the bar to judge themselves by.

    1. Yatindra says:

      Andy Green should do well.

  3. jonrob says:

    Pity they can’t shuffle Fisi back in as a driver.

    1. Toti Harban says:

      You are sober right? Fisi = Scared E Cat. I am just stunned FI were stupid enough to sign Liuzzi to a rock solid multi year deal. Clearly he holds many of the cards but knows he will be out of F1 if he does not take Hispania. I think it is safe to say he is the final signing of the year to come. Is he managed by Willi Weber as surely that is one of the few managers who could get Liuzzi a pay drive.

      I doubt however I will be a fan of Diresta. I know the corporate face of F1 but he is just too pristine to have a character, BORING.

      I think the HUlk deserves the seat more and am stunned Weber did not get it for him.

      You have to remember though Willi is the manager who forced Ralph on Williams and Toyota for what return?

      Maybe the teams do not trust him.

      Dare I say if I was Vijay???

      I would put in Hiedfeld and the Hulk and leave the wee lad testing another year.

      1. jonrob says:

        No Fischicella not Liuzzi!
        They should have got him back after his abortive Ferrari stint. He was getting their best results before going to Ferrari.

  4. Bec says:

    FI are trying to park Liuzzi at Hispania, in the hope of avoiding another costly court case.

  5. Lilla My says:

    James, a bit off topic – I’ve read your book recently and I’d like to share some thoughts on it. I don’t know if this is a right place, but I’ll post it here anyway.

    Generally, I can’t be too objective as I like your site a lot ;-). What’s more this was my first ever F1 book, so I have no comparison to other books. It took me something like 1 or 2 days to read it, so I think this itself is a good review.

    But to the point: I liked the fact that you added some comments with a hindsight to, especially, some of the earlier notes which complement your notes and give a broader view. The comments I have are quite minor and of rather editorial than substantial nature. I thought that maybe it would be nice to put some pictures not only in the middle section of the book , but also in its other parts, so that they would illustrate the texts. Also there was this text about the new Silverstone layout: though I know that most of us fans here are fanatic enough to know what each track looks like, I thought that maybe it would be helpful if, next time with such text, you could put pictures of the old track and the new track. It would be more comfortable for the reader to have a look at it, instead of imagining and reminding to oneself how the track used to look like and how it looks now.
    Some of the texts end with comments like “please write your comments in the section below” or “please send in your suggestions” – I know this is a collection of the notes from your site, but I thought this kind of comments look good on the Internet, but loose its point in a book and look strange on paper (especially if a reader of the book is not acquainted with your site), so maybe I would delete such parts next time and just write a comment that you asked fans for opinions and you got a huge amount of replies.
    And it also somehow seemed to me that you were rushing to the end in the latter part of the book – there are less notes from November – I know that season ended in the middle of November, so there couldn’t be that many texts, but it was such an intense part of the season and it seemed a bit skipped through. And the ending is a bit sudden with Hulkenberg being axed by Williams. I know this was an important thing and that this was the order of your notes on your site, but nevertheless I had an impression that the book ended somehow unexpectedly – Vettel became the champion, Ferrari made a tactical error in Abu Dhabi, then we suddenly move to Hulkenberg being out and then you jump to the conclusions about the whole season and Red Bull in particular – I missed some link between these notes here (some additional comments in between?).
    And I found some mistakes in the number of points in some of the point tables, but I don’t think many people noticed that and I myself don’t know why and how on earth I noticed it ;-).
    I hope that didn’t sound too critical as I think these are really minor comments that do not belittle the fact that I had a great time reading your book and enjoyed it a lot. Thanks so much and the new season can’t really start too early.

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks for the feedback. re putting photos in the text, that calls for a different kind of book layout and is much more expensive to produce. I wasn’t aware there were mistakes in the points, they were carefully checked through. As for the notes, it is a question of word count and I did a retrospective post at the end of the year to sum up the final month. Thanks for buying the book and for taking the trouble to write

      1. Lilla My says:

        I thought pictures in various parts of the book can pose such a problem… but there’s always the desire to see more pictures by Darren Heath as they’re always great ;-). However, would putting even a simple schematic drawing (b/w) of a changed track be the same problem? Of course, there might be no such need next year so it’s rather theoretical question – for further future if need arises, but when I was reading the note about Silverstone track, I thought that even the simpliest drawing would be helpful, so I didn’t have to imagine it to myself.
        Thanks for your work and keeping us in touch with F1 in the off-season.

      2. midnight-toper says:

        Utter drivel. Why post that on a blog site without an alterior motive?

      3. PJ says:

        Apart from one typo where Massa’s point are quoted as 28 rather than 128, there are no errors in the points as such. However, in a couple of races it quotes the points BEFORE the application of time penalties (Europe and Singapore).

        James – On the photographs I’d like to ask you to put a proposition to Darren Heath: next year why not also do an inverse of your book (in addition to your own). A coffee table picture book of his images and using some of your writing to put some context on them. As a keen photographer I think Darren’s work is the best sports photography I’ve seen and I’d hope there are enough other fans out there who’d want to buy it to make it profitable.

  6. Martin Collyer says:

    Off topic this, never mind.

    Through the Twelve Days of Christmas, I have counted up the number of comments to each team review.

    Why? I’m retired and I have time to do these things.

    1st. Ferrari – 128 and possibly rising
    2nd. McLaren – 107

    No surprises so far.

    Last. Toro Rosso – 33

    Still no surprises.

    Red Bull – a miserable 44 comments, they won both championships, plenty of controversy too yet we didn’t have much to say about them, me included.

    We had more to say about Hispania, Lotus and Virgin – 69,59 and 46 comments respectively.

    It’s easier to explain Ferrari’s failure in Abu Dhabi!!

    1. James Allen says:

      Probably due to the day it was published. Maybe the lack of controversy in the post! Who knows. Thanks for following though..

    2. Galapago555 says:

      Great point. Funnily enough, I’ve thinking about the same question… just to conclude that Ferrari is the most popular and the most controversial team. Very surprised with the 69 (mmm… why everybody smiles when I mention this number?) comments about Hispania.

      Btw, Ferrari article has 137 comments now. And I have to correct the figures, HRT has 59! :-)

      1. midnight-toper says:

        Galapago555,

        Are you a genuine fan or posing questions for BAT in some subtle form of subliminal advertising?

      2. Hisham Akhtar says:

        More to talk about?

        Red Bull kind of completed their story by the end of the season so there wasn’t much left to talk about aside from a passing “I told you so”

      3. Martin Collyer says:

        Yes, I got Lotus and Hispania mixed up, it should have read Lotus 69, Hispania 59.

        Ferrari now up to 151, will it ever stop?

    3. Lilla My says:

      You know – Red Bull won the way they wanted, with apparently no team interference and with the champion they wished for. So what more can be said about it? (just theory so don’t tell me, that there’s plenty to talk about as I already know that;-)).
      McLaren is a British team and this being a British site can expect a vast number of comments about them, that’s obvious.
      Ferrari is controvertial (and probably not so loved by many British people – not saying all, but it’s not the most popular team in the UK, you must admit) and they commited the greatest blunder of the season in the most important moment, so there’ll be lots to talk about still in the future and it will never end.
      HRT was a kind of a strange creation after all – they almost didn’t make it to the start line (changing names even before anything started), then they didn’t test at all, changed their drivers all the time and had the slowest car ever, being subjected to doubts whether they will make it to the finish of the season. So there’s also plenty to talk about as they were a bit controvertial, though in a different manner than Ferrari.

      O.K. so these were only my theories, but I don’t know if, especially the one concerning Red Bull, is worth believing in ;-).

      Interesting observation though – I saw before, that RB review wasn’t that popular, but thought it would change. I’m surprised it didn’t.

  7. dkfone says:

    off topic james, do you know who will be Schumi’s engineer this year. i’ve heard Mark Slade mentioned but not sure?

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, I believe that is right. Very good engineer

      1. dkfone says:

        I would really love to hear some race engineers opinions on the drivers they run with. For example, does mark slade think Hakkinen or Raikkonen was better. How does Andea Stella compare Kimi and Alonso etc. Have these questions ever been asked

      2. El shish says:

        Judging by how many times we heard Andrea telling Alonso about his enormous talent and congratulating his every move like a doting mother, I think we know the answer to that one.
        In all seriousness though, a kimi/mika comparison (know they’re both out of f1) would be good. If this were football, they’d be keeping this under their hat until enough info is amassed for a book. Not sure f1 workers are similarly inclined

      3. Lilla My says:

        I don’t know if I can post a youtube link here, hope I can, so here’s a little interview with Alonso and Andrea Stella:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xq6mlqUlt8M

        Stella says that from all the drivers he worked with Alonso is the one that wants to have the biggest amount of information as he wishes to know all the time what each driver is doing…

        I found Alonso’s team radios quite entertaining this year – he seemed so emotional most of the time and I thought Andrea Stella was doing a good job remaining calm and balancing out these emotions. On telling Alonso “how great his talent is” – I think different people require different types of motivation. Vettel’s RE tells him to “push mate! push!” and “shouts” thing to him (being more emotional), while Alonso seems to need a different guidence – calmer one, more like assuring him that it’s fine and he’s doing good rather than enthusiastic “go go go!!” or whatever else of that kind ;-).

  8. India! says:

    This was hinted at back in June..

    http://richardsf1.com/2010/06/17/force-india-exodus-due-to-big-bucks-from-lotus/

    Perhaps fuelling more bad blood in the simmering rivalry between Force India and Lotus, the former is now claiming that the exodus of its chief technical staff members to Lotus was down to the promise of better salaries by the Tony Fernandes owned squad.

    At least, that’s the claim from Otmar Szafnauer, Force India’s Chief Operating Officer.

    Shortly following the promotion of Mark Smith to replace the Sauber-bound Technical Director James Key, it was then announced that Smith had been headhunted to Lotus for next season, alongside the team’s Chief Designer, Lewis Butler and the Head of Aerodynamics, Marianne Hinson.

    Speaking with Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, Szafnauer is quoted: “Lotus has double the salary. So you either have to pay more or look for an alternative.”

    It is believed that the next appointment to Force India’s Technical Director role will be Andy Green.

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