Guest Author - Christine Blachford
Vijay Mallya took over the ailing Spyker team in time for the 2008 season, and immediately there appeared to be a new lease of life amongst the back markers. Mallya brought with him the enthusiasm of an entire nation, plus a hefty budget that had previously been missing at the team.
They signed up Fisichella and Sutil - bringing the experience of Formula 1 from the former Renault driver, and the experience of the team from Sutil. Everything looked good for the new season.
At the start of the year, Mallya's aims were pretty modest. He wanted to get through to the second session of qualifying. Then he would look at moving up into the points, and maybe even a podium finish. Unfortunately, escaping Quali 1 was a much harder task than the team had initially thought.
There were a few highs for Force India, but almost always they were followed by terrible lows. Sutil managed to get up to fourth position at Monaco, and they were so close to a great points finish, until Raikkonen lost control of his Ferrari and knocked Sutil out. Likewise, Fisichella's good performances often ended in crashing out or reliability issues.
There was a definite improvement throughout the year, and by the end of the season, Mallya had reduced his aims to a modest summary, saying that they had managed to bring the car up from the back of the grid. Although quite often finishing towards the back, and facing blue flags throughout a race, Mallya was simply happy that they had caught other teams up, and become competitive. Honda, being a particular example, are now fighting for positions with Force India on a regular basis.
For the future, Force India will be switching from Ferrari engines to McLarens, which will mean a lot of changes to the car. However, this is a great time to do it, with the regulations toppling everything on its head anyway. For the moment, we have confirmation that Fisichella and Sutil will return in 2009, however with McLaren taking a bigger interest in the team, this may be subject to change in the future.
Nevertheless, 2009 should see the team become even more competitive, and hopefully they can get their first ever championship point.