The Sahara Force India team has surprised the F1 paddock by releasing the first image of a 2014 hybrid turbo F1 car, ahead of McLaren’s planned online launch on Friday.
The side shot of the VJM07 gives little away but reveals a striking new livery for the season, with new sponsorship from Sergio Perez’ backer Claro, owned by Mexican Carlos Slim. This is the third F1 team Slim has been involved with, after Sauber and McLaren.
The nose of the car is believed not to be the actual 2014 nose. Many teams are reporting that the nose section of these cars will be ugly, due to the new regulations.
Another note on the commercial side is the presence of Astana on the car, another backer to enter F1 from the world of pro-cycling. Lotus F1 team announced Saxo Bank last week, which supports a team on the pro-cycling tour.
The change of colours away from those of the Indian flag reflects a shift in emphasis for the team, from something which was about Indian pride in F1 to a more global view. With a Mexican and Kazakh sponsor roster that is hardly surprising. Caterham expressed something similar yesterday, highlighting the role nationality played in the choice of its drivers and there regional marketability.
“When I founded the team my first ambition was to launch the first Indian team on the grid, but the next stage in our evolution is to develop a global brand,” said SFI’s owner Vijay Mallya. “I think that ambition is reflected in the partners we are working with and our world class driver line-up. It certainly feels as though there is the potential for 2014 to be our strongest season yet.”
With a Mercedes power plant and back end on the car, as well as the return of Nico Hulkenberg and a highly motivated Sergio Perez, you can see why Mallya would be excited. Budgets continue to be tight, but the team has shown in the past it can punch above its weight and if the Mercedes turns out to be the power train to beat in 2014, then Force India could be challenging for that podium they have longed for since their 2nd place finest at Spa in 2009.
What do you thing of the Livery? Is it an improvement on the 2013 one (above)? And do you think Force India could spring a surprise in 2014?