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New Force India breaks cover: Targets for season hard to define
Posted By: James Allen  |  01 Feb 2013   |  12:21 pm GMT  |  32 comments

Force India launched its new car at a chilly Silverstone this morning, following on from launches by Lotus, Ferrari and McLaren.

The VJM06, which is visually very similar to last year’s model, was rolled out in the pit lane by deputy team principal Bob Fearnley, driver Paul di Resta and technical director Andrew Green.

There was no second driver announcement. Fearnley said that it is up to the teams’ shareholders to decide on who will fill the second seat and they aren’t there yet. Paddock gossip suggests that currently Jules Bianchi is in the strongest position, although Adrian Sutil has long been confident of his chances.

Fearnley said that he expected to announce the second and third drivers before the Barcelona test later this month.

Targets for this season are hard to pin down. Last year they aimed for fifth and ended up seventh with 109 points, behind Mercedes and Sauber. This year they are being more cagey on expectations, with good reason. Qualifying in the top ten on a regular basis is the main target, allowing them to pick up regular points and the odd fourth and fifth place, as last year. But they would like to achieve more consistency than they have recently.

Fearnley said that he would like the team to knock on the door of the podium. He announced a new commercial partnership with TW Steel watches. He said that the future looks bright for the team, despite the turbulent situation in the business life of the team’s owner Vijay Mallya, who was forced to sell a significant stake in his drinks business to Diageo at the end of 2012 to shore up his debts.

Force India is in what one might called the “squeezed middle”; teams of middling budget (along with Sauber, Williams, Toro Rosso etc) who will only be able to push on development for a short while this year, with diminishing returns from a formula which will become obsolete at the end of the year. There will be far more to be gained for them by focussing on their 2014 car from relatively early in the season and as they don’t have the resources of the top teams, which can develop both cars at once – the 2014 car will have to take priority.

The car ran in an installation lap, with Di Resta shaking down the car on a damp track,
“It’s obviously tense times ahead,” said Di Resta. “It’s nice to see the finished product. The guys have done a good job. We need to start more strongly than we have in recent years. The key point is going to be qualifying in Melbourne.”

The new Force India car looks like an evolution of last year’s model. There is a lot of carry over from last year. The stepped nose is covered by a vanity panel. There is a legality strip running along the mid part of the nose. They had gurney flaps on the wing ready for running.

Around the cockpit area, from the roll hoop, down through the side pods to the floor, are identical to last year. It is perhaps surprising there aren’t more changes there.

The rear wing is changed; the DRS actuator pod is reduced in size, as Ferrari has done.

The exhaust looks similar to last year’s car, in launch spec. With the Coanda system if you want maximum Coanda effect you go for the minimum diameter of pipe. This also reduces engine power, so there is a balance to be had. Without seeing the pipe it’s hard to judge, but the channel looks a similar size.

The floor is similar to last year’s, however rear brake ducts are different, there are quite a few detailed changes here. The cascades on them are areas where there are some gains to be had and the engineers have clearly decided to spend some resources there.

Overall, the impression is that the car is largely a carry over from last year, with the whole cockpit and side pod area unchanged with some new work on the nose and the rear brake ducts. It isn’t like the McLaren, for example, where you can see many detailed changes throughout the car.

“It’s a new car, we didn’t hold back,” insisted technical boss Andrew Green. “The incremental performance gains are harder to find due to regulation stability. It’s getting harder to find gains.

“Consistency will be key to this season. We’ve done a lot of work analysing how we used the tyres last year. So keeping the tyres working in their sweet spot is the key to it and on top of that we keep on bolting on extra downforce.

“Our focus in winter testing is going to be all around the new tyres. It’s the one thing we don’t understand.”

[Additional technical input: Mark Gillan]

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Is it only me, or does launching a car with only one driver look somewhat embarassing?


The Ferrari engine deal for 2014 is the root cause of the driver delay for Force India. This team has come a long way and seem to have what it takes to be the fourth or fifth strongest team on the grid.

Force India is being courted by Mercedes and Ferrari at the same time. Both engine suppliers really want Force India to use them. This is a big decision for the future of the team.

Would the new Mercedes 2014 engine move the team up the order, or is the Ferrari package more desirable? The choice is extreme to say the least.


agreed, the team since the jordan days have been able to develop a car thoughout the season impressively! great example was when they got pole position in spa from no where.

FI and Sauber are important teams for the engine suppliers. and their main teams to gain more ideas.


Eventhough they are ugly, I sort of got used to the platypus nose.

Seeing this year’s cars without the platypus nose feels like (for my naive eyes or the stupid part of my brain), we are missing something important technically or aerodynamically…:)


Seeing Di Resta taking the covers off a new car on his own gives you the feeling that they are in real trouble.

Well organised teams shouldn’t be leaving it this late to announce their driver line-up.


Maybe I got used to it but this bulky “vanity panel” nose looks worse than last year’s platipus


What’s the deal that this ‘legality strip’? Is that the protrusion that appears to run along the bottom of where the vanity panel presumably attaches? What legality is that serving, as it doesn’t appear to be on any of the other cars yet revealed and seems as if it could have some performance-related characteristics, however minor.


I assume that the nose has to conform to certain dimensions (eg when viewed from above), and the legality strip allows them to meet this regualtion whilst scalloping out the nose sides allows them to affect the airflow in a way that they want



Very dissappointed with that car from Force India, looks so much like last years


Very little to see here.. And the important thing which made them good last year was Hulkenberg mixing it with the lead guys- now who knows!- I think Paul Di Resta will be a busy lad and I think7th or 8th will be the best they do this year but will have to wait and see Williams and Sauber and maybe Torro Rosso before we see how they stack up. I think they have to go Sutil now- they need another solid driver to keep them in position- rookies will just push them back a spot .

Scuderia McLaren

Hi James,

This is probably just me, but I didn’t fully realise Di Resta was actually officially confirmed.

I thought that he was in limbo. People assumed he would be in, but it was not officially stated kinda thing. Clearly not I suppose, as he is there at the launch.


Not just you – it caught me out too!


I wish they would re-imagine the colour scheme on the Force India. Kkeeping the same colours but in better thought out shades/patterns.

It is an awfully ugly car every year.

Sauber too – but not as bad.



the old days are over.

Top 4 teams can live off big sponsorships and/or parent companies.

Caterham will be building road cars together with Renault, and are engaged in numerous other activities. Williams doing the same, transferring F1 technology to various fields. Lotus has managed to do a surprising number of B2B deals.

All the others will be struggling as small sponsors can’t provide the level of financing a successful F1 team requires.

Hence the unprecedented high demand for pay drivers.

Also, with 2014 cars to develop, McLaren may have been forced to reduce the quantity of technological help Force India used to get. Same thing could be true with Sauber/Ferrari.


There definitely seems to be an air of doom and gloom around this team at the moment with the rumours going around about VJ and no confirmed second driver. Hopefully things aren’t as bad as they appear to be.

p.s. Rumours is spelled right. It’s minor, but considering that you are British James, I find it curious that your site uses an American spell checker.


James what’s the “legality strip” you mentioned on the nose?

Also I think they have to be cautious at their expectations this season. This car hasn’t been developed that much, if Williams or Torro Rosso improve they could be in trouble.


not really, as Force india were outperforming williams, sauber and even mercedes in the last part of last season. The car ended faster than the Sauber, so they will be up there again this year.


the cars beind an evolution, eg. not much different to last year, and comments like ‘far more to be gained for them by focussing on their 2014 car’ it sounds as if nobody is going to try hard this year. i’m sure i’m wrong though.


The shareholders choose the drivers?! So a bunch of people who are probably more familiar with spreadsheets than racing are really the best people to judge who can drive around a track quickest?

This pay-driver lark has got very silly. It won’t be long before we’ll be seeing Bill Gates racing Warren Buffett.


I agree – this business approach to things like this is not very good. I prefer a ‘we are here to be fast’ approach.


The shareholders are the owners..and the owner will choose its own staff.

Shareholders are smart people and they will make their decissions after looking at all the facts.

You think Martin Withmarsh from McLaren hired Perez without having consent from the big guys?


I have no doubt the major shareholders are smart people, but just because you’re smart at buying and running businesses (which the Sahara company appears to be about) doesn’t qualify you to choose a racing driver.

That’s why they employ someone who does know something about racing to make those decisions for them. Yes the shareholders will need to rubber-stamp the choice and deal made since it’s a big investment, but I wouldn’t expect them to actually choose the driver.

Oh and the big guy at McLaren is Ron Dennis. He knows a thing or two about racing so is a bit more qualified to help Whitmarsh choose drivers 😉


I think you misunderstood me.

“That’s why they employ someone who does know something about racing to make those decisions for them. Yes the shareholders will need to rubber-stamp the choice and deal made since it’s a big investment, but I wouldn’t expect them to actually choose the driver.”

I never said the shareholders will choose the driver. I am sure some options have been sugested to them by competent people with F1 experience within the team.

Ohh, and I’m pretty sure Ron Dennis doesn’t own McLaren and he will also have to get the boards aproval on any big decissions.


Bet Hulkenberg feels better about his decision now if he didn’t before.


haha wait for tomorrow’s Sauber launch


Pretty sure he did before, but yeah, I second that.


Retention of Aethra backing indicates Bianchi is at least 3rd driver


Oh dear, it doesn’t sound that promising. The talk about it being hard to find incremental gains, plus the car seeming to have a lot the same as last year – it looks like Force India are gonna lose a bit of ground in 2013 – especially since their 2nd driver (probably Bianchi) will be new, and therefore weaker than Hulkenberg.

I say 7th in the WCC at best…


The VJM06 was rolled out in the pit lane



An F1 launch doesn’t get more un-glamorous than that.

Surely Force India have headquarters where they could have done this in additional to having a mini-party where the press contingent would have been provided with snacks and drinks.

Anyway, the car looks good, and yes, the vanity panel is the best thing to happen to F1 since the podium champagne showers.

Now considering the fact that unlike last year Force India aren’t setting their eyes on too high a goal in the constructors championship, this only proves that Jules has already got the seat, which in turn proves the team’s management do not trust his skills.

I believe the delay in announcing their second driver has all to do with the contract. One or both of the parties here isn’t happy about one or two clauses and thus the haggling going on at the moment.

As for Paul, he really has to perform this year or lest we will forever get tainted and hence the big teams won’t come knocking.

Scuderia McLaren

Think that big team knock opportunity has come and gone already. Such is life in F1. Don’t beat your team mate 2 years running, and there you go.


James, do you know if they have a new chassis, or is it the 2012?

There were some rumors they didn’t pass the crashtests and therefore had to use the 2012.


Oh dear…

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