Speculation as to the scale of the delays restricting Force India this winter is rife and today, the team announced that fans will have to wait even longer for the VJM08 to hit the tarmac for the first time. After missing the Jerez test, the team will be in attendance for the next week’s Barcelona test, but with their drivers putting additional mileage on a car that they have been driving for a whole year. However, all is not lost for the Silverstone based squad.
Ultimately, the delays appear to be caused by a drive for long-term gains at a cost of short-term losses. Force India moved to Toyota’s wind-tunnel facility in Cologne this winter – a facility which is proclaimed to be the best of its kind in the world. However, as Deputy Team Principal Bob Fernley has highlighted, the owners had a pre-existing contract with Caterham and while issues regarding the outgoing team’s relationship with Toyota were ironed out, Force India were forced to put the brakes on the relocation. As such, they were unable to start work in Cologne until December. In many ways, it is unsurprising that the VJM08 is still not ready to make its début and if Force India can prepare the car in time for the second Barcelona test then in many regards, that will be an achievement in itself.
Running at next weeks test will provide fairly basic benefits to the team – tyre testing and basic aero work are likely to be the bread and butter of their programme. It may be a light list of potential avenues to pursue over the course of the four days, and I would not imagine that Force India will be anywhere near the top of the mileage stakes, but clocking some pre-season laps is better than leaving Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez twiddling their thumbs for another week. In addition, if they aim to make the third test, which comes just three days after the close of the second, then it makes perfect sense to make the most of being at a live circuit.
Hopefully, Force India will have a solid package in the VJM08, straight out of the box. If they have fundamental flaws which derail their progress in the final test, they could be flying-blind when they arrive in Melbourne. In delaying the VJM08 again, they are walking a tightrope.
Image Credit: Sahara Force India