22 January 2014
Force India F1 2014 launch: Ready to exploit opportunities
Having dedicated itself to preparing for the 2014 F1 season, and all the changes it brings, Force India believes that it is well placed to upset the applecart early on.
Sahara Force India is hoping that its decision to turn its attention to the 2014 F1 season earlier than many of its rivals will pay in the coming months.
That is the view of COO Otmar Szafnauer who, as the covers came off the shapely new VJM07 in a surprise 'virtual' launch, insisted that the Silverstone-based team was ready to exploit any opportunities to upset the establishment.
Even before its 2013 campaign was derailed by the enforced change of tyres following the British Grand prix, Force India was already working towards this season, aware that the wholesale change of engine, drivetrain and aero regulations would not only provide a chance to shake-up the recognised pecking order, but also require a great deal of thought and preparation.
“We've had a fruitful winter, helped by the fact that we deployed all of our resources early towards developing the 2014 car,” Szafnauer confirmed, “That may have impacted on our performance in 2013, but I think it was the right decision.
“From a competitive standpoint, it's difficult to speculate [where we stand] because we don't know what the other teams have done. The regulation changes are the biggest in decades, which allows for varying solutions, [but] it's tough to say whose solutions will produce the best performing package until we actually go testing.”
While accepting that the technical changes go some way to levelling the playing field, at least initially, Szafnauer accepts that the commercial power of the bigger teams should eventually win out, but that will not stop Force India from trying to be a thorn in their sides.
“Like most things in life, having more resources usually wins!” he commented, “We are competing against manufacturer teams with big budgets, so you would expect their well-funded research will help them find the optimal solutions.
“As a smaller team, you don't have the resources to do all the required experiments in order to give you the best solutions for some of the problems. Sometimes we have to take a best guess – an educated and scientific guess – as to what the solutions should be. When you don't have all the data, and when you are making some decisions that way, you could be right in your guesses. But, if there are a lot of them compared to your competitors, it just introduces more risk.
“We haven't seen a change like this for decades, so the teams that get on top of it quickly will have some opportunities early on and, as time passes, we will all learn how to race with the new power units. There is a lot to think about: how to get them home, how to conserve fuel, and how to best utilise strategies in qualifying versus the race. We will learn from each other as well as the experience of racing.
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