Force India has become the latest team to unveil its new Formula 1 car ahead of the 2017 season after taking the covers off the VJM10 at Silverstone on Wednesday.
The team’s new car follows in the footsteps of Williams, Sauber and Renault’s efforts by being a great diversion from its 2016 effort following the overhaul of the new regulations for the coming campaign.
The VJM10 sports more radical aerodynamics, including the sharkfin engine cover that is set to feature on most cars on the gird this year, while the color scheme moves away from the black colors used last year and instead incorporates more graphite.
“From the data we have seen so far, this is a cracker of a car, and we hope it’s as quick as expected,” team owner Vijay Mallya said.
“Compared to previous seasons when we tried to carry over 50 per cent of a car, this one is as close to brand new as you can get, I’d say 95 per cent,” technical chief Andrew Green added.
“We’re essentially starting from scratch. We think we’ve got the basis of a car now.”
Force India enters 2017 off the back of its best season yet in F1, having finished fourth in last year’s constructors’ championship behind only Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari.
“Many commentators of the sport have always said that we punch well above our weight and to add to that, the world champions for the amount of money spent is a huge compliment,” Mallya said.
“It speaks volumes for the passion, the creativity, the talent of my team and everybody at the factory. This passion is only going to get more intense, and the passion to improve further is going to be pretty radical in 2017.
“If we did not dream big, we would not have finished fourth in the world championship last year. To be in the company of Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari is a huge accomplishment in itself. We have always dreamed big. We have never had conversations even in private that we cannot break into the top three. That is going to be our objective.
“We will certainly give it our best shot. I read an article this morning where Renault’s Cyril Abiteboul said teams like Force India may struggle in an arms race. Good luck to him. He may have to eat his words. It’s not about the size of your weapons, but their quality.”
The team’s charge was led by Sergio Perez, who returns for a fourth season in Force India colors after rejecting an approach from Renault.
“We were the fourth-fastest team and had a couple of podiums. That makes me confident,” Perez said.
“It makes me expect to have a very big year for the team.”
Instead it was teammate Nico Hulkenberg who made the move from Force India to Renault, paving the way for Mercedes junior driver Esteban Ocon to take his seat.
“I want to learn from this team, and they have a lot to teach me. I will have a lot to learn from Sergio, he’s a very experienced driver, a very great driver,” Ocon said.
“I hope I will learn a lot from him in the tests, and my goal is to be straightaway on the pace in the race.”
Ocon made his F1 debut in Belgium last year with Manor after replacing Rio Haryanto, and impressed during his stint with the backmarker team to warrant a swift promotion up the grid.
“Esteban is a very, very talented youngster. When Hulkenberg decided to move on, we spent a lot of time thinking through who we could hire as a replacement,” Mallya said.
“Esteban has tested with us before, so we had some data on him. We then put him in the simulator, and he impressed all of us, so we made the decision. He’s young, he’s talented, he has limited experience in F1, but he is willing to learn.”