Force India revealed their 2012 car (coded VJM05); in fact, in the hands of Paul di Resta, it became the 2nd 2012-spec machinery to turn its wheels in anger (ok, mild annoyment) for one installation lap today, at Jerez (Williams already shook their car down yesterday, away from the eyes of the press). Allegedly the team was encouraged by di Resta’s feedback (wow, guys, cool new LED’s on the steering wheel!).
Ok, joking aside the new Force India car looks to be a well-thought out and accomplished design, which manages to incorporate some pretty impressive details. I was mostly impressed by the amount of free air allowed to travel to the back and the way the bottle-neck shape at the back is really tight around the gearbox – arguably tighter than whatever we’ve seen so far. This is clear in the picture below (please also mark the opening for the motor starter, marked with yellow).
The exhausts’ angle is at the lower allowable range (as you can see in the photo below, I calculate it to about 13 degrees). The exhausts are mounted quite close to the car’s centerline (as opposed to McLaren’s, as we’ve seen before), and it seems that Force India are planning to blow the lower part of the rear wing. Nevertheless, it is clear that the exhaust outlets have a scope for experimentation, and we expect to see a varying degrees of angles during pre-season testing. There is a winglet mounted atop of the beam wing, which will probably be using the air coming from the central cooling outlet that the team has adopted. With all those exhausts and cooling outlets blowing in the wings, the ducts and around suspension members in 2012 cars, I expect to see all the cars run thermo-strips in their suspensions and wings (at the back) for the first tests. This may be an issue during the year.
The nose, which clearly follows the rules literally, is more refined than Caterham’s version, and definitely more refined than Ferrari’s (the technical analysis of the F2012 will follow soon). As several F1 journalists have already remarked, VJM05 will not be a platypus but a hammerhead shark; check out the onboard cameras mounting at the front. Although I find their nose design quite pretty and streamlined in fact, this black monstrous tip ruins it for me.
Other than the above, the overall designed looks very accomplished and contemporary. The sidepods are slim and heavily undercut, increasing the quality and quantity of the air travelling at the back. The roll hoop structure is substituted with the typical-for-2012 design (with 2 extra mounting pillars, just like Sauber in 2011) that we’ve seen so far (as ScarbsF1 has predicted way in advance, this solution is actually lighter than the full carbon-fibre mono-blade type). The front wing is one which we haven’t seen in the past as well. The suspension solution is typical for 2012 (so far), with pullrod at the back and pushrod at the front. Tried and tested.
The team have set their goals high for 2012, hoping to secure 5th place (i.e. go one better than their best ever finishing position, which was 6th in 2011). This, practically, means that there will be a lot of pressure on the shoulders of Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg, two young and relatively inexperienced drivers. It means that the drivers will have to display maturity and work together towards securing constant points finishes. A good example to follow would be the way Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi operated last year.
Join me in wishing them good luck….