As was the case with Red Bull Racing, Force India F1 has claimed that there was more to be gained from missing the opening Formula One test of 2010 than there was from rushing to be there.

Last season's other surprise package - nothing could have forewarned of Brawn's stellar campaign - heads into its third season after taking over from Spyker full of optimism after not only claiming its first F1 points, but also a maiden pole and podium in 2009, courtesy of the now-departed Giancarlo Fisichella. With the wraps coming off the VJM03 ahead of this week's Jerez group test, chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer insisted that dodging the previous outing at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo was a measured move.

"It was a strategic decision," he maintained in an interview with the team website, having witnessed the car being shaken down a little closer to home, at Silverstone, following its online launch, "By missing the first test, we can gain a little bit more development time - a little bit longer in the [wind] tunnel, a little bit longer thinking about what's important on the car. It was just a trade-off decision. We completed a shakedown day, before the [Jerez] testing started, that regains a little bit of what we've lost."

With Fisichella having followed his Spa exploits by jumping at the chance to effectively end his F1 racing career in the scarlet of Ferrari, Force India starts the 2010 campaign with an unchanged driver line-up, having drafted Vitantonio Liuzzi in alongside stalwart Adrian Sutil from Monza onwards. Stability there matches that elsewhere in the company, something that Szafnauer believes will only help the team going forward.

"I think stability does produce results," he noted, "That's not to say you shouldn't change and improve as, clearly, you should, but huge upheavals never help. If you can have stability with the right people pulling in the same direction, you're much better off. Fortunately, we have that here.

"I like the atmosphere in the team. With half the people of a big team, we design a good car and the wind tunnel guys do a very good job in getting the numbers that are required. You just don't have the time or resources available to waste, so you just get on with the job.

"Adrian is a great asset. He's very talented, and he's fast and fearless, and he'll gain from the experience he now has. If Tonio can learn from last year, and his confidence is up knowing that he's got a regular seat now, he has great potential."

New signing Paul di Resta also came in for praise from the COO, following his decision to sign a reserve and testing agreement prior to the launch of the VJM03.

"He's a young driver with a lot of potential, and we're going to work with him to maximise that potential, and that should be to the benefit of this team" Szafnauer said, "He can help us in simulator testing, and he should be doing some Friday testing just to get familiar with the car and hone his skills. And then we'll see about the future..."

While large sections of the team may have a simialr appearance to 2009, however, Force India has hardly been sitting still over the winter, with improvements in various areas that, Szafnauer hopes, can only bring further gains to keep the momentum going.

"There are two big improvements from 2009," he confirmed, "One has been the increase in our CFD resource, thanks to a new partnership with CRL in India which has increased our capacity by five-fold. The other principal area has been the utilisation of the wind tunnel to a greater extent, almost 24-7. Coupled together, this has allowed us to take great steps forward.

"Last year, Simon Roberts instilled some very good processes and procedures that have also helped to refine our procedures, communications within the company and, ultimately, the decision making process. Simon did a great job in doing that, and I'm going to carry that forward.

"Our biggest challenge is to get the wind tunnel up to 24-7, and become efficient with our CFD capacity. For you to maximise your performance, there are a thousand little things that you need to get right. This year, the racing is going to be a bit different, with no refuelling, and it's always good to have more money so you can do more development throughout the year."

If there is one area that FIF1 should be able to exploit better than some of its more well-heeled rivals, it will be the reduction in manpower allowed, as it wasn't exactly a big operation before the restrictions came into force.

"There's a step down in personnel allowed at races this year, as well as on external expenditure, but neither affect us at all," Szafnauer confirmed, "If we change nothing this year, we'll be below both of the levels set, whereas some other teams will have to come down. It is very much to our advantage as we are not having to learn any new skills or working operations procedures.

"I think, in F1, we're all quick to learn - and quick to learn from each other - but, if we can make some good calls early on, that will help us."


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