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GP Week : Issue 96
The partnership with McLaren -- encompassing Mercedes engines and gearbox supply, has been a big plus in the evolution of Force India. 25 F1 FEATURE >> to put a plan into place and structure the company to turn it back into a successful racing team, which has been done by investment and the tie-up with McLaren Applied Technologies and Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines has given us the stability to design a car which is now a competitive race car." With the team changing hands three times between 2005 and 2008, survival was the aim. Adding performance to the car took a back seat and the team remained bolted to the back of the grid. Despite all the hardship and uncertainty, Stevenson insists it played an integral part in making the team what it is today: "You could say it was destabilizing but I wouldn't really agree. We've basically got the same people here now as we did back then, so the team stuck together as a whole. It's all led to what we've got now, they were all building years," continued Stevenson. "I think each year was very important and I wouldn't say I wish we hadn't done any of them because the team would be long gone. Each of those years has helped us achieve what we've become -- it's helped in our experience. It's helped in our technical knowledge as well because we've had a lot of hard lessons to learn and without being in that situation we wouldn't have done it. "We were still rebuilding from the Jordan days because the budget wasn't there and the team did change a lot when Eddie [Jordan] moved away. We lost a lot of people that had been with the team for a while so we had to rebuild it. And to rebuild a team takes time. I don't believe you can go out and just hire the best people -- you have to hire the best people that are able to work within the environment that you're able to offer them." As mentioned by Stevenson, key to Force India's progress in recent years has been the partnership with Mercedes and McLaren. Announced late in 2008, the deal included the supply of Mercedes-Benz engines and McLaren gearboxes, allowing the team to avail itself of arguably the best power train on the grid. The partnership also allows Force India to free up more resources, where previously their gearbox was designed in-house. "The patnership with Mercedes and McLaren has been very important for stability. It's obviously a well-known fact that the Mercedes engine is one of the best of the grid. It's enabled us also to design our cars specifically for those engines which is such an important thing, which has helped the performance again," explained Stevenson. "Knowing what you're going to race each year and working as closely as we do with Mercedes-Benz, that is a gain, it's a big positive. "We have a gearbox from McLaren and that is all we have. The suspension is our own -- all the rocker assemblies, all the geometries are our own design. But what it does allow us to do is to free up the people in our drawing office to concentrate on the areas that we were a little bit weaker in. Now we're stronger [in those areas] and hopefully going on into this year and into 2011 we'll just get stronger and stronger in those areas." The team is also closely aligned with the European Aeronautic Defence and