Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Team Force India's VJM01 makes track debut

Force India's 2008 Formula One car made its track debut at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya on Monday, less than three weeks before the start of the season in Australia.

However, technical head Mike Gascoyne said the late appearance of the VJM01, named after Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya and Dutch entrepreneurs Jan and Michiel Mol who last year bought the Spyker team and renamed it, would not be a disadvantage.

"Over the winter we have really been working with the new drivers and we've certainly shown a new level of competitiveness, which is something that will benefit us going forward," he said in a statement.

"There has been a lot of work going on in the background and we should look to go to Australia and be very reliable, especially in the first few races and pick up whatever we can," he added.

Force India have recruited 35-year-old former Renault driver Giancarlo Fisichella, winner of three Grands Prix in a career spanning nearly 200 races, as teammate to inexperienced German Adrian Sutil.

Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi, who competed for Toro Rosso last year, has joined as test driver with an eye on a future race seat.

Spyker scored just one point with Sutil last year, finishing last but one in the constructors' championship thanks to McLaren being stripped of all their points for a spying controversy.

"Last year was very frustrating but now we are in a position to move forward from a much more competitive baseline," said Gascoyne.

"Certainly you will see that with the next new development we should look to racing properly with the midfield as soon as possible."

The new car is based on the version of the Spyker F8-VII that was introduced at last year's Italian Grand Prix in September, with aerodynamic and mechanical updates to be tested at the Circuit de Catalunya this week.

"Aerodynamically there has been a complete rework of the car," said Gascoyne. "With our two wind tunnels in Brackley and Italy now operating full time, we have been able to make a lot of progress in the aero department."

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