Preliminary maneuvering done last week, that is, Ferrari customer engines cast off a year early, Force India signed a five-year deal Monday with McLaren Mercedes for drivetrains (engines and gearboxes), hydraulic systems, and KERS (kinetic energy...
Preliminary maneuvering done last week, that is, Ferrari customer engines cast off a year early, Force India signed a five-year deal Monday with McLaren Mercedes for drivetrains (engines and gearboxes), hydraulic systems, and KERS (kinetic energy recovery system) technology. Operational support is included.
Mercedes will supply engines for the Indian Formula One team's new car, the VJM02, which will be fitted with McLaren Racing gearboxes and hydraulic systems. Force India cars will carry the KERS system in development by the German-English partnership. The energy recovery system enters Formula One in 2009 as an option. Simon Roberts of McLaren Applied Technologies will become Force India chief operating officer.
Based in Silverstone, England, Force India, formerly Jordan et al, also announced an agreement with aerospace company EADS to expand the team's computational fluid dynamics capability.
"We are absolutely delighted to be able to announce a technical partnership with McLaren Applied Technologies and Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines, and also our plan to expand the composite manufacturing capability and drawing office within our Silverstone facility," team owner Vijay Mallya said.
"McLaren and Mercedes-Benz are two of the most famous names in motorsport history, having achieved great success in grand prix racing over many years, and most recently, a superb victory in probably the most dramatic world (driving) championship Formula One has seen.
"These new resources and developments will provide an enormous boost to our technical armory and, as a result, we have high hopes of making good progress in 2009 and beyond."
The association is touted as an opportunity for Scottish driver Paul di Resta to reach a Formula One cockpit. Di Resta, a cousin of 2007 Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti, tested with McLaren F1 as recently as last month and earned praise from McLaren supremo Ron Dennis. Di Resta succeeded McLaren's newest world driving champion Lewis Hamilton as Formula Three Euro Series champ in 2006, beating new Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel in doing so. Di Resta was runner-up this season for Mercedes in the German touring car championship, the DTM.
Among other drivers under contract to McLaren-Mercedes are Spanish veteran Pedro de la Rosa, the team's third driver, and Briton Gary Paffett, the team's test driver.
Mallya, who previously had expressed satisfaction with Force India drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil, said he must assure delivery of a car before he considers drivers. He added in remarks to Reuters that he would be "hard-pressed" not to consider McLaren recommendations. Force India was the only team contesting 18 races that did not score a point in 2008.
"Force India Formula One Team has been in existence for only one year, and inevitably our first season has constituted a learning period," Mallya said. "But we said at the outset that we meant business and were not interested in merely making up the numbers. The announcement of our new technical partnership, combined with the new developments and resources outlined above, clearly underlines that we meant what we said. I would like personally to thank Bernie Ecclestone and FIA president Max Mosley, both of whom offered their assistance and support throughout the gestation of this deal.
"Interest in Formula One in India, especially among the 300 million-plus professional-class demographic as well as in neighboring countries such as Singapore, Malaysia and Abu Dhabi with a large Indian population, is growing at astonishing levels. Formula One commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone has declared plans to stage an Indian Grand Prix in 2011, in Delhi, our capital city, by which time Force India Formula One Team will be exactly that: a Formula One force in, and for, India."
Elsewhere in F1:
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo confirmed at a news conference in Mugello, Italy, over the weekend that he smashed the television set he was watching when Ferrari driver Felipe Massa lost the World Drivers' Championship to McLaren's Lewis Hamilton at the season's final race in Brazil. "I broke the television," he said. "I must tell the truth. When a television breaks, it makes a terrible bang." Massa appeared to have done everything necessary to win the title until Hamilton passed Timo Glock for fifth place and enough points to scoop the prize
Hamilton said at a Mercedes event in Stuttgart, Germany, called Stars and Cars, where he drove F1 cars along streets with McLaren's most recent world champ, Mika Hakkinen, and played drums with teammate Heikki Kovalainen, that he has worked a deal with McLaren boss Ron Dennis to keep a few of the trophies the 23-year-old has won, including from his first podium, his first victory, his '08 Monaco victory and the '08 world championship. McLaren famously allow drivers to make replicas of trophies before they are required to turn the originals over to be housed at the McLaren factory.
Hamilton also revealed in Stuttgart that Renault driver Fernando Alonso, Hamilton's teammate and co-runner-up for the 2007 drivers' title stopped by the McLaren garage in Brazil to congratulate the Englishman on winning the '08 title. The two shared an increasingly acrimonious season at McLaren before Alonso left the team two years earlier than contracted. Hamilton said he saluted Alonso for the gesture. "It took a big man to do that," Hamilton said. "I was very thankful for it and I respect him for that gesture." The Spaniard, world champion in 2005 and 2006, had said he would not like to see McLaren win a championship but bore no ill will toward Hamilton.