As well as adjusting to 2009s extensive regulation changes, Force India have also switched from an engine supply deal with Ferrari to a new technical partnership with McLaren. And with the engine and gearbox contract only agreed in November, the team have been working flat out ever since to accommodate the late change of plan.
“The deal took quite a while to do and therefore the announcement and the opportunity to start work was late, especially considering the package included such fundamental items such as the gearbox,” technical director James Key told the teams official website. “Its obviously very tight, because of what weve had to do. But the plan is to hit the last two official team tests before the season.”
Although modifying the car's design to incorporate a new gearbox and engine has been a complicated process, Key has clearly relished the challenge and has been pleased with how smooth the transition has been.
“We had to determine how compatible the existing designs were,” he added. “In some areas it was fairly straightforward. Some areas of the car matched very well with the new packaging requirements we had, while in other areas it was significantly different.
“I think its just getting everything together. McLaren have been absolutely excellent, they understand that weve had a lot of work to do in a short time. Theyve been extremely supportive, very helpful.”
And if Force India's progress continues at the same rate throughout February, the VJM02 is expected to hit the track for the first time on March 1 at a multi-team test at the Spanish circuit of Jerez.