Guest Author - Christine Blachford
The 2009 Force India car has now made it's appearance - one of the last teams to do so. Just Toro Rosso (and Honda, if they make it to the grid) have yet to be revealed. The VJM02 was released as it took to the track for the first day of this week's Jerez test. The new car features an updated livery, with white, orange and green paintwork to simulate the Indian flag.
Their driver lineup remains unchanged, with both Fisichella and Sutil relying on this season to prolong their F1 careers. Fisi looked as though he was coming to the end of his Formula 1 days when he was ousted from Renault, but Force India provided him with a lifeline, in need of a driver with plenty of experience. He needs a good year to prevent his seat from being snapped up by a new, and more youthful, driver. Sutil wants to become more competitive this year, as his skills are wasted at the back of the pack. He has previously been touted as the next big thing, but without the machinery under him to prove it, that title has moved on to others, such as Kubica and Vettel.
Of course, they are not the only ones who want to step up in 2009. Team owner Vijay Mallya says they have no excuses this year. He admitted that if there was no improvement he would be bitterly disappointed, as they have worked hard over the winter. The one drawback is that the deal with Mercedes to provide engines, having switched from Ferrari, was signed very late, and meant getting the car ready was a lot tighter than they had imagined. However, any little problems should be sorted out after the first few races, and then we want to see some results.
Mallya admits that being compared with McLaren isn't an issue, in fact it is helpful. He knows they won't be on a par with them, performance-wise, but running the same components means they can narrow down the areas that are slowing them down.
On the first day of testing, the Force India finished ahead of both McLaren and Renault, although granted, testing times must always be taken with a pinch of salt. However, things are looking up for the team, and let's hope they have a good year in 2009.