Just three days on from the announcement that it is to separate from engine-supplier Ferrari with immediate effect [see separate story - click here], Force India has confirmed the worst-kept secret in the Formula 1 paddock - that it will switch to Mercedes power in 2009.

Chairman and newly-appointed team principal Dr Vijay Mallya has repeatedly insisted of late that Force India is aiming big next year - what will be only the Silverstone-based minnows' second campaign in the top flight.

Having failed to score a point in 2008 despite both Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil having run well up the order on occasion - as high as second place in the former's case in Singapore - Mallya has considerably loftier ambitions for season two, and with the raft of changes in the sport's regulations the Kingfisher Airlines billionaire had made clear that he desired more than just an engine-supplier next year.

With the Indian also pushing for an entire drivetrain, KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems) technology and other technical assistance as FIF1 bids to take a leap up the grid, Ferrari was unable to comply - but McLaren was.

'The Force India Formula 1 team is pleased to announce a major new partnership that will propel the team forward for the 2009 FIA Formula One World Championship and beyond,' revealed a statement from the former Jordan Grand Prix and Midland F1 concern, going on to describe 'a ground-breaking technical partnership with McLaren Applied Technologies (which is a company wholly owned by the McLaren Group) and with Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines.

'In a unique long-term deal, the Force India VJM02 cars will be powered by engines designed and built by Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines, the first time that the legendary manufacturer has supplied another chassis constructor other than McLaren. Additionally, Force India will have access to the McLaren Group's network of bespoke suppliers that has supported this year's world championship victory.

'McLaren Applied Technologies will additionally supply the Force India cars with McLaren Racing gearboxes and hydraulic systems, and will provide operational support to ensure Force India functions at its highest possible level.

'The Force India Formula 1 team also plans to fit its cars with a kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) that is currently being developed by Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines and McLaren Racing (which is also a company wholly owned by the McLaren Group).

'In conjunction with aerospace company EADS - which, like McLaren and Mercedes, is also a global leader in its field - the Force India Formula 1 team announced that it will soon be expanding the computational fluid dynamics capability of its Brackley Aero Centre facility.'

The move is seen as a major step forward in Mallya's intentions for his squad - which he is seeking to turn into 'a Formula 1 force in, and for, India' - and the 52-year-old was quick to express his enthusiasm for the new relationship.

"We are absolutely delighted to be able to announce a technical partnership with McLaren Applied Technologies and Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines," he underlined, "and also our plan to expand the composite manufacturing capability and drawing office within our Silverstone facility.

"McLaren and Mercedes-Benz are two of the most famous names in motorsport history, having achieved great success in grand prix racing over many years and, most recently, a superb victory in probably the most dramatic world championship Formula 1 has seen.

"These new resources and developments will provide an enormous boost to our technical armoury and, as a result, we have high hopes of making good progress in 2009 and beyond.

"Force India has been in existence for only one year, and inevitably our first season has constituted a learning period - but we said at the outset that we meant business and were not interested in merely making up the numbers.

"The announcement of our new technical partnership, combined with the new developments and resources outlined above, clearly underlines that we meant what we said. I would like personally to thank Bernie Ecclestone and FIA President Max Mosley, both of whom offered their assistance and support throughout the gestation of this deal.

"Interest in Formula 1 in India, especially among the 300 million-plus professional-class demographic as well as in neighbouring countries such as Singapore, Malaysia and Abu Dhabi with a large Indian population, is growing at astonishing levels.

"Formula 1 commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone has declared plans to stage an Indian Grand Prix in 2011, in Delhi, our capital city, by which time the Force India Formula 1 team will be exactly that - a Formula 1 force in, and for, India."


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