Friday, 1 February 2013

Force India Reveals Daring One-Driver Plan

The entire Force India driver line-up, plus one of two cars he'll have to drive at each Grand Prix.
Oh dear. It seems Paul di Resta will seriously have his work cut out this year at Force India F1. It seems at this point that the Scottish driver and former DTM champion will have to drive both VJM06s for the Indian team, as no other drivers have been announced. With Nico Hülkenberg defecting to rival team Sauber - whose car will appear tomorrow - and whoever their test driver was apparently gone as well, he may not have a choice in the matter unless the team formerly known as Jordan get their act together and announce in the next four days who else will pilot the new car, which becomes the third to add the Vanity Panel and make Lotus GP look a little foolish for not having one. At the moment it might be returning club brawler Adrian Sutil or last year's apparently AWOL test driver Jules Bianchi, but it probably won't be Kamui Kobayashi, despite the fan favourite raising over a million pounds (in Yen, of course) in supporter's donations. He has said that he will have to look at returning in 2014 instead...

Last year was mixed for Force India, as they ultimately came 7th in the Constructor's Championship (a drop of one place from 2011). They did still get some high finishes, such as a 4th place at both Belgium and Singapore, and Hülkenberg getting damn close to winning the closing round at Brazil, before losing the back end under braking in greasy conditions and clattering into race leader Lewis Hamilton, while trying to avoid the Caterham they were both lapping. He seems to be good at that track, having also put a Williams on Pole Position there in 2010 against all odds, so watch out for a rouge Sauber at the sharp end of the Interlagos grid this November.

Anyway, Force India's steady rise throughout 2012 was impressive given that the seemingly effective upgrade packages stopped coming about halfway through the season, at which point they'd decided to focus on the car you see here instead. With that much time lavished on it and at least one driver who knows what it'll be like, they could be a dark horse this season. When Honda put that kind of development into a car, and that car ended up having a Mercedes-Benz engine squeezed inside it, we had the dominant 2009 Brawn GP001. Can the Merc-powered Force India emulate that to some extent and score podiums? That's certainly their aim, and they tend to have a good all-rounder of a car, which helps them at all-rounder tracks like Spa, where they got their only ever Pole Position and podium finish in 2009, coming second to Kimi Räikkonen's Ferrari F60 in the race.

Until the first test session starts next week, keep an ear out for any driver announcements. Paul di Resta certainly is, otherwise he'll be demanding that they double his salary......

BIG PICTURE. Carbon fibre mullet present and partying out back.
Seeing as they're based at Silverstone, why not use up the allocated promotional filming time while everybody's watching?
The nervous smile of a man who may have to drive two cars this year...
Black-painted "chin" under the nose is a long-standing Force India feature to improve air flow under the car.
I think that the whole driving two cars thing will be fine for Practice and Qualifying, but in the race he'll either have to switch cars and lose all his progress, or get a lookalike to drive the other one while lying about having a time machine. It's a risky strategy, we'll just have to see whether Force India go with after all or not...

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