Nancy Knapp Schilke, F1 correspondent
Sahara Force India uncovers their VJM05
On a chilly day, the FIA Formula One Force India team took the covers off of their 2012 challenger. Present were both drivers: Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg. Also on hand was the team’s reserve driver Jules Bianchi as they unveiled the second car developed and designed by the team under the leadership of Andrew Green.
The livery of the VJM05 is basically the same, and like the other Formula One teams, they also have the new style nose. On closer views, there are noticeable styling changes. Technical Director Green summed it up by saying, “The car looks more refined; a lot racier and a lot more purposeful. You can start to see the aerodynamic concepts coming through now. It looks quite a bit different to the previous years, and so far the performance in the tunnel has been encouraging.”
I believe this is a realistic goal...
Despite an up and down 2011 season, Dr. Vijay Mallya’s team finished sixth in the constructors’ title fight and they head into the new season with a positive outlook. “We have set our sights on challenging for fifth place,” explained Team Principal Mallya. “To do so we will need to begin the new campaign by delivering the kind of form we showed in the second half of 2011. I believe this is a realistic goal and that we have the talent and determination to realise these ambitions.”
Indeed the car does have a more stylish and aerodynamic look to it but it is how it performs on the track that will be important for the Force India team. Di Resta returns for his second season. “Seeing the new car built and complete for the first time is always an exciting moment. It’s when you realise that all the waiting is finally over and the season is beginning for real.”
Hulkenberg was the reserve driver last year for the UK-based team and now will campaign the full season. He said, “I saw the new car in the wind tunnel a few times and followed its progress during the winter. It looks aggressive and fast, but we won’t know where we stand until we get out there and compete against the others.
The new VJMO5 will have a Mercedes engine and like the rest of the grid, they also had to make changes for the new regulations. The gearbox for Force India comes from McLaren Applied Technologies. The team will continue to us the Mercedes KERS and Green said, “It was as close to a seamless integration as you could want. It’s a fantastic system, and we’re very happy with it. There are little detail changes, but essentially it’s the same package.”
The Chief Operating Officer of Force India, Otmar Szafnauer commented on both drivers. About di Resta, he said “If you look at drivers coming into F1, generally in their second year they take a relatively significant step, which we expect Paul to do as well. It’s not new to him anymore. In 2010 he saw a lot of the circuits on Fridays, but he’s actually raced on them now. He has significant experience now which will enable him to improve his overall performance.”
He added his thoughts about the promotion of Hulkenberg into the full-season ride with the team: “We had three very good drivers to choose from and the decision wasn’t an easy one. We had to look at medium to longer term potential and we saw some good potential in Nico, based on what he delivered on Fridays, based on his attitude, based on his feedback, and based on his speed. With all that taken into consideration we saw big potential in Nico.”