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.'