8 February 2011
Force India's VJM04 a car for new era
Force India's newly-launched VJM04 incorporates a lot of 'subtle' changes, technical director Andrew Green has revealed - but he hopes that translates into a quantum leap forward out on the racetrack
Andrew Green may have been involved in the design process of F1 cars for more than 20 years ago, but he will still hope that he has produced a winner when the new Force India challenger rolls out for the second of the 2011 season's group tests.
The wraps came off the VJM04 during an online press conference ahead of this week's Jerez test and Green, one of the men behind the original - and beautiful - Jordan 191, admitted that he and the rest of the Silverstone-based team faced major challenges created by the changes to the technical regulations for 2011.
The cut in downforce derived from a ban on double diffusers, the outlawing of F-duct systems, the reintroduction of KERS and advent of movable rear wings, as well as the switch from Bridgestone to Pirelli as sole tyre supplier all combine to make F1 a very different arena to the one which Force India left in Abu Dhabi last season, and Green reveals that, while not everything may be visible to the naked eye, the VJM04 is much-altered from its predecessor.
"Everything is different but, visually, a lot of it is subtle," he points out, "The most obvious visual change is that we've gone away from a conventional roll-hoop to a blade. This gives us a small packaging improvement compared to a more conventional style. The engine cover is different too, in line with the abolition of the F-duct system, but there are a lot of differences under the skin that people won't necessarily notice."
The ban on double diffusers and other changes in the rules created a drastic cut in downforce at the rear of the car, and getting it back has been one of the major challenges of the winter.
"We believe that we've recovered a lot of the aerodynamic performance - we still have a little bit to go, but we are still in the process of the realignment after the end of last season, because it does take a long time to move aerodynamically from one position to another," Green argues, "The movable wing is a whole new game, and we'll be trying to exploit its performance to the max."
With the ban on two of the more recent innovations in F1, observers were keen to spot the next one during last week's Valencia group test, with Lotus Renault's front-exiting exhausts among the new ideas on show.
"Exhaust management will be a big area of development this year," Green agreed, before insisting that the whole car still has development potential, "There will be an upgrade for the first race, so there are some changes that will come into effect at the Bahrain test. Further down the line, there are some big updates for the front of the car coming in for the first European race."
Bridgestone's decision to quit the top flight at the end of 2010 affects the entire F1 grid, not just Force India, but Green is determined not to have ignorance of the tyres as an excuse for poor performance.
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