Will Force India make a leap forward in 2009 after their McLaren deal?

There will be a lot of McLaren bits in the 2009 Force India

There will be a lot of McLaren bits in the 2009 Force India

Force India?s technical tie-up with McLaren-Mercedes, which was rumoured for several weeks, was announced today.

Having used Ferrari engines in 2006 (as Spyker) and 2007, Force India is embarking on an ambitious project which will see them use the same gearbox, KERS, Mercedes engine and other parts as McLaren.

How will this massive acquisition of kit, which is supplied by the winners of the drivers? championship, transform the fortunes of the team that ended 2008 point-less?

The scale of the deal between Force India and McLaren is interesting for technical, political and sporting reasons.

From a technical point of view it will give McLaren increased opportunity to test its Kinetic Energy Recovery System. Force India benefit because, having struggled with reliability this year (eight mechanical DNFs, more than any other team), they will now be able to use some of the most reliable equipment in the pit lane.

Politically the deal is interesting because the ??everything but the kitchen sink? arrangement is not unlike what McLaren came close to arranging with Prodive for 2008. The crucial difference is that Force India will not be using McLaren?s chassis. The agreement seems to have the blessing of the FIA ?ǣ Vijay Malla said:

I would personally like to thank Bernie Ecclestone and FIA President Max Mosley, both of whom offered their assistance and support throughout the gestation of the deal.

The arrangement could be a new blueprint for how independent teams can ally with manufacturers in future to reduce their costs. Will Red Bull and Toro Rosso follow suit with a similar arrangement in future?

Finally the deal has a sporting dimension. Force India expect to be propelled up the grid in 2009 and challenge regularly for points. Mallya ?ǣ whose ambitions regarding his team have been fairly restrained up to this point ?ǣ is now talking about winning races in 2010 and getting a car on the podium at the inaugural Indian Grand Prix in 2011.

It remains to be seen whether Mallya is now beholden to McLaren in terms of driver choice. Although he announced last month he would retain Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil for 2009, rumours have suggested McLaren testers Pedro de la Rosa and Paul di Resta (but not, it seems, Gary Paffett) could now become Force India racers in 2009.

What?s your take on the Force India-McLaren deal? Will Force India become regular points scorers in 2009? Will they change their driver line-up to suit McLaren?s preference?

2009 F1 season
2009 F1 drivers and teams

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38 comments on Will Force India make a leap forward in 2009 after their McLaren deal?

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  1. John Spencer said on 10th November 2008, 20:45

    If it’s anything like the Red Bull – Torro Rosso relationship we can look forward to Force India overtaking McLaren sometime after mid-season

  2. I think it is a great deal for both Force India and McLaren. Like you stated, it will help McLaren with test new components (cheeky way of getting around the testing regulations) and it will help Force India move up the grid with a better package deal than other customer and independent teams like Red Bull / Toro Rosso and even Williams currently have. I get the feeling they felt a little muffed after Toro Rosso did so well with basically the same engine.

    I do hope this is the way of the future for many new teams on the grid If say Lola and other notable chassis builder (come’on Lotus, would love you back!) want to get back into the sport; this might be a good way to do it. Also by pooling resources, like minded teams can save money and work together while keeping the FIA out of their pocketbooks and business. I bet that BMW, Toyota, and Honda would love a similar to help spread their costs a little bit with another team on the grid.

    Oh wait Honda had the chance but they blew it.

    The only trouble I can see if Force India beats McLaren like what happened to Ferrari this year with Toro Rosso, what will happen then? However, I don’t think we have to worry about that for a while. Also, I would like to see that teams are limited to one partner in order to ensure that not all the grid or large portions of the grid are on the same engine.

    All in all good news I believe.

  3. Sriram said on 10th November 2008, 20:48

    The acquisition looks to be a good thing, but it would have been even better if it had been done with Ferrari. As one would normally expect, a bunch of stuff from a new partner is going to take its time to integrate properly, which might eat into development time. But firing Gascoyne is a surprising and potentially costly move.

  4. Will Force India make a leap forward in 2009 after their McLaren deal?

    many would wish it was that simple… so, no

  5. Nathan said on 10th November 2008, 22:18

    If you ask me, this is as close to a customer car deal as you could possibly get without it being a customer car deal. Why are the other teams OK with this but not an entire chassis?

  6. great, more things for Ron Dennis to try to control, and cry about.

  7. anyway, isn’t it stipulated in the rules that a engine maker can only sell its engines to one team?

    I’m sure it was on Formula1.com last year about the FIA allowing Ferrari to sell to Torro Rosso AND Spyker for the year since Cosworth pulled out?. and also that the year before they allowed Minardi to have V10 power units since they were so poor in comparison to lets say… Ferrari or BMW power?

    to the point that Torro Rosso ask for an extra 500revs?, but were only allowed an extra 300?

  8. beneboy said on 10th November 2008, 22:50

    Dan Brunell

    I do hope this is the way of the future for many new teams on the grid If say Lola and other notable chassis builder (come’on Lotus, would love you back!) want to get back into the sport; this might be a good way to do it.

    I’d love to see Lotus build a new F1 car too Dan.

    I’d also like to see some other teams use this method for their early years in F1.

    If each manufacturer could offer a similar set-up to this to at least one other team it would allow the manufacturers to reduce the development costs & could be a low cost option for the customer team too.

    Anything that allows more teams to race is good news for me.

  9. Manatcna said on 11th November 2008, 3:23

    So, are we getting more teams on the grid in the near future? – though not Prodrive apparently.

    And yes, I believe (and hope) Force India will move up the grid next year.

  10. If Max and his FIA barons are really interested in cutting costs, they should forget about the horrible spec-engine plans and push for more cooperation like this. Force India benifits tremendously from this arrangement, and McLaren also makes out well, so everyone is happy in the end. Indeed, perhaps a rule could be put into place where one of the big teams can only help one or two smaller teams, but this is a good start for now.

    In terms of pushing Force India up the grid, I don’t see them challenging the front-runners for the titles,. but perhaps they can haul in around 20 points if they play their cards right, maybe even a podium or two….

    Finally, with regard to the drivers, no doubt McLaren are going to edge Mallya to put one or more of their guys in a seat, including di Resta and, long down the road if the deal is still going, perhaps Oliver Rowland. While it seems it may take awhile, Mallya will want an Indian driver in one of the cars eventually, so perhaps McLaren gets the say on one seat and Force India gets the other to itself.

  11. Vijay Mallya dreamed about points in 2008 too.

    Mallya however seems to know what he is doing and with improved reliabity the points may be realistic goal for next season. Wins ? Hm, would McLaren guys like that ?

    Mallya should do something about his driver line up, if he managed to get out of the contract with Ferrari he should not have much trouble to get out of the contract with any of his drivers. But I am not sure if lining up di Resta and de la Rosa is what he has in mind … but well, money talks so we can’t rule anything out

  12. Shahriar said on 11th November 2008, 6:07

    well…. along with the engine package they also need to upgrde their traction and aero… or else they r gonna be in the same position… mclaren engine is as good as ferrari (better? who knows)

  13. It’s way too hard to predict, for 2009, even if Force India have Mercedes engines and McLaren gearbox and parts. They will disappoint, though, if they don’t rack up at least 15 points, next season.

  14. Hang on a moment, surely a deal like this is so close to being ‘Customer Cars’ why don’t the FIA just go the whole way and allow it to happen? Then we would see teams sharing engines with BMW, Honda and Renault again, and bigger grids!
    I think a better future for Force India will depend on whether they keep the current drivers or go for Mercedes / McLaren sourced more experienced ones. Also, surely it will depend on how much technical assistance they get from McLaren and Mercedes too. And how much is allowed under the current rules?
    If Force India are effectively becoming a ‘B’ team for McLaren, won’t that open the door to all sorts of accusations next season from Ferrari? (Who will conviently forget about STR…..)
    And thinking about Torro Rosso, perhaps Luca and his boys ought to think about putting more money their way? Maybe turn it into Martini Racing F1? Perhaps with Old Schuey as Team Principle(?)

  15. I don’t think the Merc engines alone would make a difference to running Ferrari engines as they have this year , but together with the McLaren gearbox/KERS and electronics , could elevate them from 19&20 to possibly around 15th place – as some above say though , they need to look at the driver line up . I get the impression from Fisichella that he is a good driver , but needing a constant push , which he just has not had this year . Sutil is still a bit of an unknown until he can be in a competitive car. I’d like to see another few teams join F1 , even if it meant re-introducing the qualifying time rule.

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