In a change to the rules for 2012, the sport’s governing body specified that all new cars must pass every crash test before taking to the track, which prompted Force India to ready their new car earlier than they have done traditionally.
“We’re on schedule, that’s the good news!” explained technical director Andrew Green to the Force India website. “It’s been a little bit tougher this year, having to homologate the chassis prior to testing. So there was a little bit of extra planning involved to get that sorted. There were a lot of fingers crossed! You’re hoping everything does what all the analysis says it should have done.
“It’s always nice when you reel off the tests one-by-one without any dramas at all. It’s a real credit to everybody. It was a different schedule, a different plan, compared to last year. Everything went to schedule, so we went into the holidays very relaxed that we’d got all that signed off. Everyone could go away and have a good break over the New Year knowing that we were ready to go!”
Force India began work on their new challenger in the summer. But the team’s close battle with Toro Rosso in the 2011 championship meant that they couldn’t fully focus on the VJM05 until the last race of the season, which must make their crash test success even more satisfying.
“We started working on it back in June, and the first wind tunnel tests were around July,” said Green. “We took it out of the tunnel for one week after August just to do an upgrade for VJM04. It was such a close 2011 season, fighting where we were fighting in those last few races. We didn’t know which way it was going to go.
“We weren’t really anticipating such a strong response from Toro Rosso near the end of the season - they seemed to have a reasonable upgrade around Suzuka time. It’s quite unusual for a team to come up with such a huge change so late in the season. So the concentration was right until the last race in Brazil. You could say that, from that point on, it’s been 100 percent focus on the new car for us.”
Despite this late start, the fact the team managed to pass the crash tests successfully means they have time to carry out preparations, including extensive rig testing and a more detailed car build, which usually get squeezed out of the January schedule. So with so much still to do, the Silverstone factory is a hive of activity.
“There’s always a buzz around when it’s happening,” concluded Green. “I’ve been looking at the car in its model form for a while now. But for a lot of people when it comes together will be the first time they’ve seen it. It’s always an exciting time when the car fires up for the first time, and it’s been born!
“It is a busy time for us, and there’s a huge unknown as well. We don’t know how well we’ve done over the winter compared to our competitors, and thus there’s a bit of anxiety just waiting to see what everyone else comes up with. So there’s that side of it too.”
Green and the rest of the team, however, won’t have too long to wait, with the first pre-season test scheduled to get underway at the Spanish circuit of Jerez in just under a month from February 7-10.