Force India targets fifth with new car
|By Jonathan Noble||Tuesday, February 8th 2011, 15:41 GMT|
Force India has set its sights on finishing fifth in the constructors' championship this year, after unveiling the VJM04 that it hopes can help it deliver podium finishes in 2011.
As the team revealed its 2011 car during an online launch on Tuesday, its CEO Otmar Szafnauer set out the team's ambitious targets for the forthcoming season.
"Last year we finished a strong seventh - and we were sixth for most of the season," he said. "We always want to improve and our objectives this year are to finish higher than last year.
"So we are targeting fifth place in the championship – and in order to do that we have to score points from the beginning and then all the way through to the end. To do that, we need strong development during the year – and if all goes well, then perhaps even a podium finish or two is an aim."
Adrian Sutil, who is remaining at Force India for a fifth season in F1, believes that the fifth place target is definitely achieveable.
"We should be up there to score a lot of points," he said. "It is important to keep that level, and we must not tail off towards the end of the season."
Although Force India does not have the finances to take on the might of the big budget teams like Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull Racing, Szafnauer still believes that the team can make good progress this year.
"We probably have half the personnel of some of the other bigger teams, but we know that is where we are," he said. "We have honed our processes and procedures. We know what we have to do and we go out and do it. We punch above our weight, and our target is to do so even more.
"It is difficult in the midfield, and the more we move up the more difficult it becomes. But we are up for the challenge. We think fifth in an achievable objective and target – and hopefully we can get podium finishes if all goes well."
Although Force India has lost leading technical figures James Key and Mark Smith to other teams over the past 12 months, Szafnauer believes the team still has a very solid infrastructure.
"We have strength in depth with the technical staff," he said. "We have many people who have been here a long time, and many people coming into their own.
"We have created a good mechanical package that is an evolution of last year's car, and we are working hard on the aerodynamic package.
"We have increased our aerodynamic personnel. We run 24/7 in the wind tunnel, which is something that is recent, and with those positive changes we will be able to compete. It is never good to lose senior technical people, but such is the game in F1."