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GP Week : Issue 104
With the precedent set, the sport’s minnows had to think laterally. Two seasons ago, a partnership between McLaren and Force India was agreed which gave Force India Mercedes engines and McLaren gearboxes, along with access to McLaren’s technical expertise and supplier base, so laying the foundations for this season’s strong campaign. The team’s rise in competitiveness since can be seen clearly: There are inevitably factors influencing this, such as the change to award points down to tenth place, but had the current scoring system been used in 2009 Force India would have managed six points finishes and scored 35 points, so there is a clear progression in performance since the working relationship commenced. While in these economically challenging times there is a clear financial motive in such a relationship for the bigger teams, they have also used them as an opportunity to farm out talent to their junior partner. As part of their deal, Force India took on Simon Roberts, formerly McLaren’s racing operations director who became chief operating officer of Force India in late 2008. Roberts gained valuable front-line experience with the team and returned to Woking in November 2009 much enriched and therefore more valuable to McLaren, while In 2010 Mercedes’ long-time protégé Paul di Resta has been getting lots of seat time in the VJM-03, and may yet earn himself a race drive in 2011. When the McLaren deal was signed, Vijay Mallya said this: “Force India Formula One Team 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.” Those comments mirror the sentiment of Mike Gascoyne at Lotus and cement the way to progress if you’re a smaller team – align yourself with the big boys. Force India is now established as a solid midfield team and regular points-scorers – exactly where Lotus wants to be. Force India show the way forward Force India 2008-2010 2008 2009 2010 (18 races) (19 races) (including Japanese GP) Retirements 18 6 7 Points finishes 0 2 14 Points scored 0 13 60 Championship placing 10/11 9/10 6/12 30