Force India F1
|Based in: Dadford Road, Silverstone, Northamptonshire, UK|
Founded: 2007 (active since 2008)
Team principal: Colin Kolles (2008), Vijay Mallya (since 2009)
CEO: Otmar Szafnauer
Technical director: James Key (until Nov 2009), Mark Smith (Nov 2009 - May 2010), Andrew Green (since Jun 2010)
Chief Technical Officer: Mike Gascoyne (2008)
Design Director: Mark Smith (until Nov 2009)
Head of Aerodynamics: Simon Philips
Head of R&D: Simon Gardner
Head of Mechanical design: Dan Carpenter
The foundations of Force India are found in a joint-venture set up by the Mol Family (headed by Michiel Mol) and Dr. Vijay Mallya, an Indian businessman. The venture that was called Orange India Holdings (OIH) then acquired Spyker Cars N.V., formerly Midland F1 racing in October 2007 with a deal that was reported to be worth around €88 million.
Under impulse of the new money, the team was quickly restructured. Over the winter, several drivers were also allowed to test while the name was officially changed to Force India F1. It was eventually decided that Adrian Sutil and F1 veteran Giancarlo Fisichella would run the cars in what proved to be a hard fought 2008. Even though the team introduced several aerodynamic upgrades and developed its own seamless shift gearbox, they were consistently at the back of the grid.
By the end of a pointless 2008, Mallya grew tired of the situation and again decided to restructure the team, attempting to improve its performance and overcome the regulation changes for 2009. Therefore, the team ended the engine contract with Ferrari and agreed a deal with McLaren for the supply of a Mercedes engine, McLaren transmission, hydraulics and the KERS system. At the same time it was announced that Kolles and Gascoyne would leave the team, in favour of McLaren technical support.
Despite some ambitious announcements, the team was unable to meet its own expectations in the early part of the season. But when the team introduced several major updates and decided not to use KERS - and hence make better use of the space available for it - the car started working well for Fisichella and Sutil. Things turned out brilliantly at the Belgian GP where Fisichella was on pole and finished the race in second place.
After that race, Fisichella was picked up by Ferrari to replace Massa (who was out for the remainder of the season due to an injury), and Tonio Liuzzi, the team's test driver, took his place. In the last 5 races of the year, neither driver managed to get any more points.
In December 2009, Computational Research Laboratories (CRL) and Force India announced a three year partnership to provide the team with a new CFD installation, aiming to keep up with the competition.
In 2010 the team continues with its proven partnership with McLaren but early on sees more technical staff leave its team. James Key was the first to leave during the winter, while during the season, the replacing technical director Mark Smith left for Lotus, together with several other members of the team. The team still finished repeatedly in the points, and at the end of the season ended 7th in the constructors' championship, improving on 8th place from 2009.
In preparation of the 2011 season, test driver Paul Di Resta was announced as race driver to partner Adrian Sutil. The new Force India VJM04 however proved a handful and managed from time to time to get into 10th or 9th places in the first half of the season. As of the German GP, things improved. Adrian Sutil finished 6th in that race, and many more points followed, with both cars often qualifying into the top 10.
Ahead of the inaugural Indian GP, in October 2011, Indian company Sahara India Pariwar purchased 42.5% of the team's shares for $100 million. Mallya retains his 42.5% of the shares while Michiel Mol keeps 15%. The team was renamed Sahara Force India as a result of the transaction.
2012 saw the team build on the strong foundations of 2011 as Nico Hülkenberg was promoted from third driver duties to a race seat alongside Paul. Recognised as one of the most exciting driver line-ups on the grid, the pair were closely matched all season with both men securing career-best fourth place finishes. Despite a challenging start to the campaign, the team scored points in 80% of the races, earning 109 points and seventh place in the standings. The season ended on a high note as Nico led 30 laps of the Brazilian Grand Prix.
A wisely planned pre-season testing heralded a brilliant start of 2013 for the team. Adrian Sutil, returning to the team to partner Di Resta, led the Australian Grand Prix on the way to the first of many double points finishes for the team. A fourth place by Di Resta in Bahrain and a fifth place for Sutil on the streets of Monaco saw the team climb up to fifth in the Constructors’ Championship before a mid-season change of tyre construction by suppliers Pirelli hurt the competitiveness of the VJM06. A strong end of the season resulted in the team reclaiming sixth position in the standings.
The 2014 season brought many changes, with the team’s colour scheme morphing into an aggressive, sophisticated black and a new driver line-up featuring returning Nico Hülkenberg alongside young ace Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez. The new pairing, together with the competiveness of the VJM07, brought immediate results with Perez ending the team’s five-year wait for a podium in his only third race with Sahara Force India. An impressive 10-race run of consecutive points placements ended mid-season, but the year progressed strongly and resulted in 10 double-point finishes: the team shattered the previous points record, 109, amassing an incredible 155 points and knocking at the doors of the top five in the Constructors’ Championship.
Having retained the driver line-up, 2015 held much promise for the team - and the season did not disappoint: a strong run of form with the b-spec VJM08, debuted at the home Grand Prix in Silverstone, brought one podium, with Perez in Russia, and a string of results that propelled the team to its first ever top five placement in the championship. Success breeds success; but it also generates expectations and the team started the 2016 season with the pressure to build on its previous results. A series of unlucky circumstances saw the team on the back foot in the first few races, but a podium by Perez in Monaco and a repeat performance in Baku turned the season around for the team. Big results kept coming, with a 4-5 finish in Spa launching Force India to fourth place, where the team would eventually finish the season. The best result in the outfit’s history, compounded with Perez crossing the 100-points barrier, a first for a driver of the team, set a new high point in the rise of Sahara Force India.
|Car designation||Race years|
|Force India F1 VJM01||2008|
|Force India F1 VJM02||2009|
|Force India F1 VJM03||2010|
|Force India F1 VJM04||2011|
|Sahara Force India VJM05||2012|
|Sahara Force India VJM06||2013|
|Sahara Force India VJM07||2014|
|Sahara Force India VJM08||2015|
|Sahara Force India VJM08B||2015|
|Sahara Force India VJM09||2016|
|Sahara Force India VJM10||2017|