Force India expect extra time in new wind tunnel to pay off with 2015 VJM08 car
Technical chief and drivers say team won't lose out by running 2014 car at Jerez; Sergio Perez expects Cologne wind tunnel to cure team's 2014 aero shortcomings in windy conditions
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 22/01/15 5:22pm
Force India are confident they will derive greater benefit from keeping their new VJM08 in the wind tunnel for an extra fortnight rather than running the car on track at the Jerez test.
The team confirmed earlier this week that they will run their old VJM07 at the opening four-day test of the winter in southern Spain from February 1, with the new VJM08 to be kept on hold until the first of the Barcelona sessions.
Force India have switched their aerodynamic development to a different wind tunnel this year after signing a deal to use Toyota’s renowned facility in Cologne, which will give it access to a 60 per cent model for the first time – a move team boss Vijay Mallya declared as one of the “most significant decisions in our history”.
And although Force India will have just eight days to work with the VJM08 on track before the first race in Australia, Andrew Green, the team’s technical director, believes they have prioritised the right area.
“It was a conscious decision we took a couple of months ago,” Green explained to Sky Sports F1’s Ted Kravitz at the launch of Force India's 2015 livery in Mexico City.
“Looking at the schedule and where we were as a team and where we were going with the new wind tunnel, and looking at the gap between Jerez and Barcelona, we thought to ourselves ‘actually, we could really do with that time in the new tunnel and the longer we can leave the launch of this car, the better for us and the more learning we’re going to do’.
“We’ve never really been a big fan of Jerez as a test track. It’s very unique – the asphalt is very unique – we don’t race there and Pirelli are bringing the tyre that we tested in Abu Dhabi. We’re happy to give it a miss, to be honest, and take the development time.”
Although both of the team’s drivers, Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez, acknowledged some of the benefits that would have come with running the 2015 car at the first test, neither is unduly worried that Force India will be left playing catch up to their rivals.
“It’s not ideal to miss Jerez with the new car but it’s not the end of the world. Had it been the case last year to miss Jerez with the new car it would have been much worse with the new engines etcetera,” Hulkenberg said.
“This year I think we’re pretty settled on that side. I’d really like to go with the new car, but it won’t happen, so we’ll have to live with that and get on. But I don’t feel like it will compromise our season.”
Perez, who was at the centre of Force India's event in his homeland on Wednesday, added: “The first test is always useful to see the cooling of the car, the package of the car, the systems. So I believe if we can be ready on that respect, knowing the car and knowing the engine, and if we can use Barcelona as a proper test to do the right learning on the car then I think we should be in a good position.”
Meanwhile, the Mexican driver has welcomed the winter switch of wind tunnels as he believes it will help the team eliminate the fundamental aerodynamic problems in the design of the VJM07.
“We were really fragile to the wind and the new wind tunnel is going to help quite a lot,” Perez predicted.
“So at least we can be more consistent, the car can be more predictable. I think we are ready to enjoy a strong year.”
The Sky Sports F1 Online team will be providing live commentary of all three winter tests, starting in Jerez on Sunday February 1, with live updates from trackside also on Sky Sports News HQ.