With an expanded grid over years past, Formula One has grown into a three-pronged competition. At the front you have the championship contenders like Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes GP. At the back you have the newcomers Lotus, Hispania and Virgin. In between are the rest that make up the midfield: Renault, Williams, Sauber, Toro Rosso and Force India. But while these divisions are fairly consistent, changes do occur from one season to the next. Mercedes GP â€“ previously known as Brawn GP and Honda F1 before that â€“ was a solid midfielder at best for years, but emerged as the champions in 2009 and still run at the front. Ditto Red Bull Racing, that has seen a remarkable transformation since the Stewart/Jaguar days. And then you have Force India.
The team took over from perennial back-marker outfit Jordan in 2007, and in its first season under new management, finished tenth in the constructors’ standings â€“ just ahead of Super Aguri, which withdrew partway through the season. But the following season it finished ninth (ahead of Toro Rosso) and last year, after running sixth most of the season, emerged in seventh, beating out Toro Rosso, Sauber and the three newcomers. That’s some impressive progress, but this year Force India is targeting fifth place in the championship, and this is the car with which they hope to get there.
The VJM04 (the team’s fourth car, so named after team principal Vijay Mallya) is an evolution of last year’s design, and returns under McLaren-Mercedes power for the third season. Adrian Sutil, who has been with the team from the beginning, returns once again, partnered this time by DTM champ Paul di Resta who replaces Vitantonio Liuzzi. Nico Hulkenberg takes up the test driver role â€“ the team having opted to run the 2010 car at the first test session â€“ while several high-ranking team personnel departed over the course of the off-season to rival teams.