With the European season set to begin in earnest with this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, teams will look to deliver their first major update package of the 2016 season. Force India have hinted that their car could look very different when it takes to the track in Barcelona, as the team are set to introduce significant changes to the VJM09, which has – up until now – proved a touch underwhelming.
To pin the team’s frustratingly meager 8 points entirely on the shortcomings of the VJM09 would, however, be decidedly harsh and far too simplistic a view. Both Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg have endured terrible luck so far this year.
In Australia, Perez was heavily compromised by the timing of the red flag which saw him spend the entire afternoon in traffic. The Mexican then went on to finish 11th in the next two rounds. In Russia, both drivers were caught up in adventures at turn two. Hulkenberg retired on the spot while Perez battled back to a respectable ninth.
Team boss turned philosopher Vijay Mallya alluded to the fact that an F1 season is a “marathon and not a sprint.” The team will undoubtedly be disappointed with how their campaign has started, particularly given that they finished 2015 on a performance par with Red Bull. However, with a raft of updates – building to what Mallya describes as “pretty comprehensive” – set to debut this weekend, they could be about to climb up the pecking order.
“Barcelona will be the first chance to run our updated car,” Perez stated in an interview featured on Motorsport.com. “It’s going to be a huge task to understand everything on Friday, but it’s always exciting to try new parts on the car.”
The main concern heading into Friday for the team will be if one element of the upgrade package fails to deliver on the promises made at the factory. When a raft of updates are introduced all at once it makes it difficult to identify any weak links. Particularly when track time is so limited due to the tight constraints on in-season testing.
Andrew Green and his team of engineers will certainly earn their money on Friday.