Szafnauer confident despite gearbox supplier switch

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Sahara Force India's CEO Otmas Szafnauer looks forward to 2014, saying he's confident the VJM07 will perform strongly despite switching gearbox suppliers over the winter.

Szafnauer highlighted that the team's early switch to allocate development resources to 2014 will help the team, even though he knows it's too early to say how competitive the car will be.

"From a competitive standpoint it's difficult to speculate because we don't know what the other teams have done. The regulation changes are the biggest in decades, which allows for varying solutions. It's tough to say whose solutions will produce the best performing package until we actually go testing."

While a smaller budget requires the team sometimes to make a guess about the optimal solution, Szafnouer said previous years have proven that this is very well possible, and that the new set of regulations could potentially turn things around.

“The chassis is completely new and all the systems are new. As a smaller team you don't have the resources to do all the required experiments in order to give you the best solutions for some of the problems. Sometimes we have to take a best guess.

“Like most things in life, having more resources usually wins! We are competing against manufacturer teams with big budgets so you would expect their well-funded research will help them find the optimal solutions. But you never know: we’ve been focussed on 2014 for a long time and we’re pleased with the car we’ve produced so there’s always an opportunity.”

Apart from having to build a car around the entirely new engines, the team also switched gearbox suppliers from McLaren to Mercedes.

“I think we've got a strong partner in Mercedes. I anticipate that they will have a very competitive solution and they are still working hard. I think in 2014 the power unit as an entire package will have a greater percentage of the performance of the car wrapped into it. If they have done a good job, and I believe they have, that should bode well for us too.

“Initially the gearbox switch was an added complication, but eventually having the engine, gearbox and the entire powertrain come from the same source will benefit us and Mercedes. Brackley is only seven miles away from our factory at Silverstone and that helps if changes need to be made or if there are upgrades. But the benefits are more than just logistical and the fact that the power unit and gearbox come from the same source will help. It's a better solution.”