Giancarlo Fisichella says that Force India can look forward to a stronger season in 2009 after taking the wraps off its new Formula One challenger.
The Italian – and team-mate Adrian Sutil – failed to score last season in what was Force India's first season of F1 competition, but the Silverstone-based squad will look to make the most of its new technical alliance with McLaren Mercedes to make progress up the order during the season ahead.
The VJM02 will benefit from a Mercedes engine as well as McLaren gearbox and KERS system, and Fisichella said was hopeful the team would be a surprise package this year.
“I hope so,” he replied when asked if FIF1 could shock the grid this season. “For sure it will be better than last year!
“[Changes in the team] are positive for sure. With Ferrari last year we had a good partnership, they were very professional and the engine was very good, but with McLaren and Mercedes we have a fantastic opportunity to integrate the whole engine, gearbox, hydraulics and KERS system.”
However, with the car only debuting today at Jerez, Fisichella admitted it wasn't ideal for the team to only be able to complete limited running ahead of the new season.
“It is a disadvantage [to launch late] as it's important to drive as much as you can before the start of the year to get a feeling with the car and try and establish a good set-up,” he said. “It's not easy in just four days, especially with the new rules coming in this year. We are just going to have to try and get as much as we can from these eight days before the season.”
Despite failing to score last year, Fisichella was quick to point out that the radical changes coming into Formula One this season could lend themselves to some surprises as the season wears on – and he said it could lead to some shocks on the podium.
“I think this year is maybe the biggest change for many years, with KERS, slick tyres, downforce and new aero rules, so it's very exciting,” he said. “It would be good to see all the teams mixed up and to be able to fight for points. If the car is good, why not even for the podium?”