Force India carried their 2009 form into 2010 and ended the year seventh in the championship – the best for the team since 2002, when it was Jordan.
But the loss of several high-ranking team members and its dip in form in the second half of the season is a concern.
It meant that Williams were able to slip past them into sixth in the final races.
|Best race result (number)
|Best grid position (number)
|Laps completed (% of total)
|Laps led (% of total)
|Championship position (2009)
|Championship points (2009*)
|*using 2010 system
The VJM03 built on the progress made with the 2009 car and was a contender for points straight out of the box. But the team lost several top members of staff in the first half of the season.
Among them was a man who had been with them since their first year as Jordan in 1991 – Ian Phillips.
That setback for the team’s commercial side was joined by a double blow to the technical department. First technical director as James Key left for Sauber, then four months later his successor Mark Smith was also gone, heading for Lotus.
Losing two major technical figures seemed have an inevitable effect on car development. Although F-duct and exhaust-blown diffuser upgrades arrived for the VJM03 (at Turkey and Hungary respectively) the team weren’t always get them to work consistently and Vitantonio Liuzzi in particular struggled with the blown rear wing.
As the season wore on Force India saw less of Renault and Mercedes and more of Sauber and Williams in the races.
The gap between Liuzzi and Adrian Sutil was worryingly large at times. Liuzzi was usually out-qualified by his team mate and the gap was often in the region of half to a full second. His excuses about traffic on qualifying laps started to wear thin.
But Liuzzi’s best qualifying performance, sixth at Canada, was spoiled after a collision with Felipe Massa at the first corner.
Sutil generally looked much more steady and less incident-prone than he had been in recent years. He was a thorn in Michael Schumacher’s side on several occasions and kept up with his better-equipped rival in the championship until the later stages of the season.
He suffered a few misfortunes along the way, rather too many of which involved Robert Kubica.
They collided at the start of the first race, then at Canada Kubica punctured Sutil’s tyre while dodging around his car on the way to the pits. At Hungary Renault waved Kubica out of his pit box too soon and straight into the side of – who else? – Sutil.
Operational trouble hit Sutil at Hockenheim where the team managed to fit one of Liuzzi’s tyres to Sutil’s when the pair pitted on the same lap. Oddly, they made the same mistake in practice during the following race on Paul di Resta’s car.
The British driver dovetailed occasional appearances in Friday practice with a successful DTM campaign (he won the German touring car title). He also drove for them in the post-season Pirelli test and there has been speculation all year long that he will get a race seat in 2011.
But Force India’s dip in form at the end of the season make it clear they need to do more than just tinker with their driver line-up if they are to enjoy anything like as successful a season as this again next year.
Force India’s season in pictures
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