On their late-season for, Force India’s momentum heading into the start of the 2011 season has not looked strong.
Losing key talent in Mark Smith and James Key will impact the VJM03, and it will up to the remainder of the team’s technical staff to make the new car competitive in order to remain in the midfield.
As yet, the new car hasn’t been particularly rapid or reliable in pre-season testing, and the Silverstone squad could find itself playing catch-up in the early part of 2011…
Force India’s 2010 track record
That Force India managed to achieve a 68-point haul and seventh in the Constructors’ Championship – only a single point behind Williams, no less – when in-season development of was a problem was certainly a welcome surprise. The team’s overall performance exceeded the expectations of many in the paddock.
Just 18 months ago, the outfield was struggling at the rear of the field, until a form turnaround saw the take a shock pole at Belgium, and it was all up from there.
In 2010, many expected the team to feature in the midfield, but when the car – certainly in Adrian Sutil’s hands – was a Q3 contender more often than not, people sat up and took notice.
Twelve points finished in nineteen races was a telling statistic, with plenty of credit to a technical alliance with McLaren coupled with an efficient design.
This was a hugely creditable result for a small, privateer team, yet it was surprising that there was little in the way of corporate investment outside of Mallya’s own companies’ stickers plastered on the car.
Another concern was the number of legal incidents the team found itself in, with legal settlements being arranged for disenchanted sponsors and third-party contractors during the year.
The other surprise was that the team simply couldn’t get Sutil’s team-mate, Vitantonio Liuzzi, to deliver at anywhere near Sutil’s level. The Italian looked well short in his full-time comeback season, but he equally didn’t enjoy the best of luck either. That he was sacked was hardly a surprise (to be fair), and neither was the legal settlement that inevitably followed…
Watch the Richard’s F1 pre-season vodcast as Richard and Jen predict Force India’s chances in the 2011 season:
[Images via Hispania Racing; video via Matt Lennon]
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