Force India eye progress after unveiling new car

The 2010 Force India VJM03 Formula One car during a virtual launch. (AFP)

Force India unveiled their new car yesterday, saying greater stability than other Formula One teams will boost their chances this season.

Vijay Mallya's team finished ninth out of 10 last season but improved significantly in the closing stages and are bullish for 2010 despite missing a deadline to file their annual accounts.

It has been a smooth transition for the VJM03 from last year's car which again uses a Mercedes engine and McLaren gearbox, whereas the start of last season was hit by a late switch of suppliers. "It's been a lot smoother," said Design Director Mark Smith.

"From the very beginning we designed the VJM03 in full knowledge of the engine and gearbox that we would be using for 2010, which gave us a significant advantage by comparison with respect to the same point in design time for VJM02."

The back of the car has changed most significantly given the team has had more time to develop a double diffuser after having to rush the introduction of last year's version when authorities decided early in the season that the device was legal.

A ban on refuelling during the race has led to bigger fuel tanks and increases the VJM03's length, and the team says it will develop an adjustable front flap this year.

The car, which will be tested for the first time in Spain's Jerez in the next four days having missed the first test in Valencia last week, has a carbon fibre composite monocoque Chassis with Zylon legality side anti-intrusion panels.

Vitantonio Liuzzi will first test the car today and will drive for the team again this season alongside German Adrian Sutil.

Amid a raft of driver changes in F1, having the same two drivers as the end of last season and no longer being the smallest team on the grid given this year's new entrants also bodes well, team members said.

"I am really confident in the work they have done over the winter and we've built a car that can regularly be in the points," Liuzzi said, adding that budget restrictions would also help Force India against the big guns.

"Yes, this is an advantage for us as we know how to operate on smaller levels that the bigger teams will have to get used to, while the new teams have a tough job to do.

 

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