Force India VJM10 – The Launch

The Sahara Force India F1 VJM10.
Sahara Force India F1 VJM10 Launch, Wednesday 22nd February 2017. Silverstone, England.

Press release From Force India reveals hopes for the new season.

Sahara Force India launched its 2017 season today offering fans and media their first look at the team’s new car, the VJM10. Silverstone circuit was the venue as Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon pulled back the covers to reveal the team’s dynamic new look including an updated livery and expanded partner portfolio.

The VJM10’s new aerodynamic package is guaranteed to get heads turning, while the silver and orange livery retains the team’s traditional colours with a fresh twist. Branding from Johnnie Walker appears on the rear wing and top of chassis marking the start of a partnership with the whisky brand. Telecommunications brands Claro, Telcel and Infinitum continue their partnerships for a fourth season, while NEC branding remains on the engine cover.

(L to R): The helmets of Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 and Esteban Ocon (FRA) Sahara Force India F1 Team.
Sahara Force India F1 Team Studio Shoot, Monday 21st February 2017. Silverstone, England.

Motor oil brand, Quaker State, continues its relationship with the team, as does long-time partner, Kingfisher, with its logo positioned on the engine cover. The VJM10 headrests carry eye-catching Hype Energy branding, while the team’s newest partner, FXTM, takes up a position on the rear of the sidepod. The team also welcomes eyewear brand, LDNR, with its logo on the front wing end plate.

Team Principal, Dr Vijay Mallya, was the first to praise the VJM10: “I can’t remember being more excited ahead of a new season. The VJM10 looks aggressive and purposeful, and is the result of a huge effort behind the scenes over the last twelve months. We have big hopes for this car, which looks stunning in its new livery.”

With a complete overhaul of technical regulations, the VJM10 represents a clean sheet of paper in terms of design. “This year the cars are completely new and nothing can be carried over from previous years,” explained Chief Operating Officer, Otmar Szafnauer. “Although we have completely new aerodynamics on the VJM10, it’s fair to say that our aero philosophy is very similar to 2015 and 2016.”

(L to R): Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 and team mate Esteban Ocon (FRA) Sahara Force India F1 Team with the Sahara Force India F1 VJM10.
Sahara Force India F1 VJM10 Launch, Wednesday 22nd February 2017. Silverstone, England.

Technical Director, Andrew Green, explained how the team has relished the challenge presented by the new rules and expects huge scope for in-season development: “It’s definitely a big overhaul; one that requires a change in mentality. It took a bit of time to adjust at first, but we are there now and I am confident we know where to look and where the performance is coming from with this car. The development slope is incredibly steep and we are going to see significant updates to the cars at regular intervals, right from the start; it’s going to be big updates and I don’t think development will start to taper off any time soon.”

Vijay Mallya remained cautious on setting a target for the season, preferring to reserve judgement until the racing begins: “Simply repeating our performance level of 2016 will be a big task in itself. I don’t want to set goals or targets other than to say that we intend to maintain the momentum we have built up in recent years and carry it into the new season. There are too many unknowns to say more than this.”

(L to R): Esteban Ocon (FRA) Sahara Force India F1 Team with team mate Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1.
Sahara Force India F1 Team Studio Shoot, Monday 21st February 2017. Silverstone, England.

Q&A with Esteban Ocon

Esteban, you’re entering your first full season of Formula One – share your emotions.

“I’m very excited ahead of the season and the beginning of this new era of Formula One. The winter has gone massively quickly and the whole team has been working very hard to help me prepare for this new chapter. There is so much to take in and learn, and lots of new people to meet, but I’m feeling at home already. The main emotion is simply one of excitement and anticipation.”

What are your first impressions of working with this team? What makes Force India special?

“I would say two words: atmosphere and motivation – that’s what stands out about this team. It really feels like a family and everybody is motivated to deliver the best possible car and great results. I’m really impressed by the feeling inside the factory.”

How steep will your learning curve be in 2017?

“You can always learn more. Even if you have started 100 races, you can still improve. I think the nine races I did last year have helped me to discover some of the main challenges you face as a Formula One driver. I’ve learned where you need to put your focus and energy. I don’t feel like a rookie anymore and this team needs me to be on the pace straight away and getting strong results. I feel ready for this opportunity.”

What were the main jobs over the winter?

“The seat fit was the main priority and being comfortable in the car is very important because the new cars will be even more physical to drive compared to last year. I’ve done lots of simulator sessions, too, and spent time with my engineering team.”

Tell us how intense your fitness regime has been over the last few months

“I’ve been taking my fitness very seriously because the cars are going to be so much quicker this year. Instead of a two-week training camp, I’ve already done two full months at altitude in the Pyrenees. The training has been very high intensity and I’ve focussed on gaining some weight to help my strength. I’ve also done visualisation and reaction work because quicker cars mean you need to make decisions faster.”

What can we expect from the 2017 cars in terms of their physicality?

“You will feel the extra force of the cars all over your body, not just in your neck. For example, the braking pressure to stop the car will be much higher so you need the strength in your legs. The g-force will increase everywhere – under braking and in corners – so it’s going to be a more physical experience.”

What about your new teammate Sergio? How are you getting along together?

“I don’t know him very well yet, but we spoke a few times towards the end of last year during the drivers’ parades. We spoke about this team and why he wanted to stay here. He’s a great guy and I look forward to learning from him because he is an excellent driver who has achieved some awesome things with this team.”

What are your goals for this season?

“I’ve got to aim to score points at every race. That’s the level of this team and I will be disappointed if we don’t start the season with some good results. I know it’s not going to be easy and all the teams around us are going to be strong, but we’ve got to aim high. The first goal is to make the most of testing and develop the car in the best direction. After two weeks in Barcelona we will hopefully have a better idea of what to expect in Melbourne.”

Q&A with Sergio Perez

It’s almost three months since you were last in an F1 car – you must be ready to get back behind the wheel?

“I’m really excited and looking forward to seeing this year’s cars. The new rules represent a massive change for everyone in the team and for me as a driver. After the long winter and preparation at the factory, you simply want to get out on track and experience your new car.”

How did you spend the off-season?

“It’s been a mixture of relaxation and lots of training. It was nice to go home to Mexico and see my friends and family because it’s not something I can do often during the racing season. Also, this year my training schedule has been much busier because I need to be ready for the massive physical challenge of the 2017 cars.

Have you done anything different this winter on the fitness front?

“I’ve not really changed that much, but just spent more time doing the same things. Normally I would spend the month before testing doing intensive training, but this year I’ve been working really hard for two and a half months. I’ve been training in the hot weather too.”

What will be the biggest change compared to last year?

“It’s going to be the energy and force you feel through the corners. It’s going to be much more physical with bigger lateral forces. Also, I expect less degradation with this year’s tyres so the rhythm of the races is going to be faster with less drop-off. I really hope that these new regulations will test us as drivers and put us under pressure. Formula One needs to expose who are the best drivers over two hours and I think the new rules are taking us in this direction.”

How are you getting on with your new teammate Esteban?

“I don’t know Esteban that well yet, but he seems very friendly. I’ve always got on well with my teammates and my relationship with Nico [Hulkenberg] was very open so I think it will be the same with Esteban. I hope we can push each other hard because it’s important to have somebody next to you who can really challenge you. That’s what the team needs too.”

This is your fourth season with Sahara Force India. You must know the team inside out by now?

“The time here has gone really quickly. We’ve had an incredible amount of success in the last three years and I want this fourth year to be even better. Knowing everybody makes a massive difference because you feel as though you are part of the family, which is especially important when you start working with a new set of regulations.”

What are your personal goals for the new season?

“My target is to improve on what we achieved last year, which will be a big challenge. I hope that we can be one of the surprises of the season and I even dream that we can achieve our first victory together. This is a pure racing team; everybody understands their role and we all work well together. That’s why I believe we can keep delivering in 2017

Neil Simmons

Twitter: @world_racing

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