Force India F1 has confirmed that its second grand prix contender will hit the track on schedule, having promised an early March roll-out for the VJM02.

The Silverstone-based team is one of the last to reveal its challenger - only Scuderia Toro Rosso is later, but will use a version of the car unveiled by Red Bull Racing on 9 February - but has confirmed that the Mercedes-powered machine will make its debut on track at Jerez de la Frontera on Sunday [1 March].

The switch of engine manufacturer, from Ferrari, is one of the reasons why the team is so late in getting the VJM02 into action, but key personnel insist that the apparent lack of development time between the roll-out and first race, in Melbourne at the end of March, will not be a major problem.

The car's first run takes place on the day before the next group test kicks off at Jerez, giving Force India at least five days' track time - provided not goes amiss with the car during what is effectively a shakedown period - at the southern Spanish circuit, and then four more when the F1 circus decamps to Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya for the final scheduled session a week later.

"We will have six-day test, which I think is enough," team owner Dr Vijay Mallya claimed earlier in the year, "I think we would be ready for the first race, [and] I'm confident we can be in the midfield."

Both Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil are scheduled to be at Jerez to get a taste of the car they hope will finally lift the team into the points in 2009, after a couple of near misses in Force India's first year. The former Jordan, Midland and Spyker outfit came closest to troubling the scorers when Sutil ran fourth in Monaco, but is hoping that its new relationship with both Mercedes and McLaren will allow it to be a factor in the midfield throughout 2009.

"Some areas of the car matched very well with the new packaging requirements we had, while in other areas it was significantly different," technical director James Key told the team's official website last month, "Effectively, we have had to redesign quite a bit of the car and, starting in November, that's been quite a major undertaking.

"McLaren have been absolutely excellent, and understand that we've had a lot of work to do in a short time. They've been extremely supportive, very helpful. It's obviously very tight, because of what we've had to do, but the plan is to hit the last two official team tests before the season."



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