Force India confirm McLaren partnership

Force India have entered into a technical partnership with McLaren-Mercedes for 2009, the two teams confirmed today.

Having used Ferrari engines in 2008, Force India’s switch to McLaren sees the team enjoy Mercedes-Benz power next year, as well as the use of McLaren’s Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS), and access to the Woking squad’s part suppliers.

The Anglo-Indian outfit will also be allowed to use McLaren’s gearbox and hydraulic unit should they desire.

In addition, autosport.com has reported that McLaren’s Operations Director Simon Robert will become Force India’s COO, working full-time at the factory, while the Silverstone-based outfit will also be expanding their computational fluid dynamics (CFD) using the Brackley Aero Centre.

Owner Vijay Mallya has said he wants to be fighting for race wins in two years time as a result of the technical collaboration with McLaren.

“We all know how long things take to actually happen in Formula One because it’s super competitive. We can’t take anything for granted,” Mallya told journalists at the Force India factory.

“Other teams are also developing and improving and of course in 2009 it’s virtually a brand new car and a brand new design. At least from my perspective, winning races I think I can certainly aspire for maybe in 2010, but for 2009 I would be happy if we are regularly in the points. That would be already a major step forward.”

McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh joined Mallya in his hopes to build a race winning car, though he was under no allusions of the difficulties in doing so.

“We hope that that with some assistance and guidance from our technology business, McLaren Applied Technology, we can focus on some of the process, the methodology that is necessary to build a winning team,” said Whitmarsh. “People shouldn’t forget that the difference between the front of the grid and the back of the grid isn’t so great.

“I know people sometimes assume that those at the front are there because they have some trick, widget, idea or concept on the car but it is seldom in my experience the case.

“The teams that are at the front have worked on developing that engineering process, discipline, procedure, methodology that can discern very small fractions of percent of performance differentiation.

“Ultimately if we can move in true competitive terms, performance terms, Force India forward by 2% then that actually is a substantial improvement in today’s Formula One. I believe that we can help Force India to develop those processes and those techniques and that methodology that have a resolution and fidelity that you can discern those very small percentage improvements.

“There’s no magic wand, McLaren has a range of businesses, our core business is going motor-racing and we see this as an exciting opportunity. It’s a challenge for Force India and ourselves.”