F1: Force India building on 2015 with new VJM09

Force India team drivers Sergio Perez (L) and Nico Hulkenberg (R) show their new VJM09 car at the Circuit de Catalunya.

JOSE JORDAN/AFP/Getty Images

Force India revealed its new VJM09 in Barcelona on Monday amid optimism about the team’s chances of at least retaining its fifth place in the World Championship.

The team says that the car is largely based on last year’s as it preferred to devote resources to its 2017 project.

“You can say the b-spec car from last year formed a basis on which to build our 2016 one,” said technical director Andy Green. “We were in a situation in which the performance on track was very good, and in which the data we were getting correlated well to what we were expecting, so we knew we could continue to develop on a solid platform. With the regulations likely to change for 2017, it didn’t really seem like an efficient use of our resources to start from scratch on a project that would have such a limited lifetime.”

“I want us to begin 2016 in the same way that we ended 2015,” said team boss Vijay Mallya. “Our technical team is excited about the progress we have made over the winter and there’s every reason to believe we can stay at the front of the midfield battle.”

As in previous years the team has a solid update program in place: “The wind tunnel program in Cologne is maturing nicely and I’m encouraged by the gains we have made over the winter,” said COO Otmar Szafnauer. “The first major aero updates should be on the car in time for Melbourne and we also plan another big step for the start of the European season.”

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Alfonso Celis tests the Force India VJM09 Mercedes at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona on Monday, Feb. 22, 2016.