I had the fortune to spend a few hours with the Force India F1 team last weekend to watch their preparations for the British Grand Prix (read the full article on Auto Trader here).
The Silverstone-based team have brought a raft of updates for their home Grand Prix. Will they be able to get off the back row of the grid ‘on merit’ this weekend?
During the three-day test at Silverstone last week Force India were the latest team to sport the extended engine cover which first appeared at Red Bull and later Renault.
They’ve also tested an inerter damper, which some teams call a J-damper (not for any technical reason – McLaren originally called it a ‘J-damper’ to make it harder for teams to figure out what it was).
This mimics the actions of Renault ‘mass damper’ which was controversially banned two years ago. It is a suspension component that allows the car to be stiffer at high speeds to allow the car’s aerodynamic to work more effectively, but softer at lower speeds to offer better traction – two things which are mutually incompatible with conventional suspension.
However Adrian Sutil was unsure how well the team have applied this tricky bit of technology and suggested the team would not use it during the race:
We have to discuss it. Let’s see what the data says and how we go on the Friday. We have not so much time on the weekend to test anything new and make a risk. But we will decide in the next few days.
They also tried out new sidepods, wheel covers, bargeboards and a revised diffuser. Sutil put the total time gained from the innovations at an impressive 0.3s per lap. At Magny-Cours Sutil’s fastest lap was within 0.3s of Sebastien Bourdais’ but Force India’s chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne wants more like half a second per lap improvement.
It’s promising news for the team which, as Spyker last year, saw too little development. Vijay Mallya’s investment is clearly having an effect.