Esteban Ocon, Force India, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

Force India VJM11: Technical analysis

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The Force India VJM11 sprang from the pen of technical director Andrew Green, who describes it as “a continuation of where we left off at the end of last season.”

“It’s the foundation for the work we’ve got lined up ready to put on the car for the next few races,” he adds. “There’s some significant changes to the car ahead but our view is we need to be sure that what we put on the car when we change is in the right direction.”

The developments will begin to arrive from the first race. Driver Sergio Perez has already indicated the team will need them to be competitive and stand a chance of repeating its remarkable fourth place finishes of 2016 and 2017.

Force India has the lowest budget on the grid but punches far above its weight thanks to its effective chassis, class-leading power unit and quality drivers. Sustaining their performance last year despite a significant regulations change was a spectacular achievement.

While we are yet to see the definitive, round one-spec VJM11, the first indication is it’s a solid evolution over its predecessor.

Sergio Perez, Force India, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018
Sergio Perez, Force India, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

The introduction of the Halo was always going to cause a few problems for everyone, the teams with the lower budgets in particular. Force India try to use roughly the same chassis design for two seasons running to reduce costs, but to pass the load tests put through the Halo the team have had to redesign the monocoque, costing them around £1 million.

This has significantly dented their development programme in other areas of the car, hence the reason for a lot of carryover bodywork from 2017. An extensive aerodynamic update is expected for Melbourne however.

Force India VJM11 sidepod, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018
Force India VJM11 sidepod, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

Interpretation of the sidepod area remains equally divided, Force India opting for a more conventional approach. The designers often draw influence from the Red Bull team and it appears as though they have replicated their geometry from 2017 with small, sloped, triangular inlets.

Ferrari’s radical sidepod arrangement from 2017 hasn’t yet inspired many copies. But as Green explained, with a major regulations change on the horizon for 2021, it doesn’t offer the conclusive benefits necessary for a team of Force India’s size to take a gamble on it.

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“That sort of area is difficult to adjust with the chassis that we have,” he said. “It’s a very big structural change to the car to do something like Ferrari have done.

It’s something we have been actively looking at for quite some time but even with us looking at it for the time we had, still couldn’t do it in time for this year’s car. We’re looking at it, it’s something that’s going to take a long time to understand whether it would potentially give a benefit. For sure, put something like that on our car now it’d be a loss.

“So it just depends how much resource we’re prepared to put into it at the beginning when it’s at a loss and see when it would overtake the current philosophy we’ve got to give us a net gain in a timeframe that’s reasonable. I know it sounds a long way away but in 2021 we’re going to have new cars again so there’s no point us developing a car that might just be ready for 2020 and be the same level as we have now when we could just keep developing what we have now and have a much better car in 2020, knowing the regulation change is coming in ’21 anyway.”

Sergio Perez, Force India, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018
Sergio Perez, Force India, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

There are some nice touches on the VJM11 that provide hints of things to come. Attention has been paid around the front suspension and brake ducts to work the airflow around the front tyres, while the mirror pods are supported by three delicate fins away from the cockpit area to offset the wake that they produce. The team have also been toying with the Halo fairing design, with up to three thin wings lining the top of the protective tubing aiming to turn down the air and prevent cleaner flow above from getting disturbed as it enters the airbox behind.

Force India, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018
Force India, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018
Force India, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018
Force India, Circuit de Catalunya, 2018

As Mercedes customers Force India buy the majority of the rear end from the Anglo-German manufacturer team. Usually the gearbox incorporates the rear suspension mounts however, like everyone else bar Williams, the team manufacture their own carbon gear case and simply insert the cassette style gearbox from Mercedes inside the bell housing. This means that they can design their own rear suspension geometry, rather than adopt what Mercedes have done this year with their raised top wishbone which lowers the rear roll centre for better traction.

But as far as the car’s aerodynamic upgrades go, watch this space to see what they turn up with in Melbourne.

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9 comments on “Force India VJM11: Technical analysis”

  1. ”Force India has the lowest budget” – I wasn’t aware of that before. I thought at least the following three teams had a smaller budget than Force India: Toro Rosso, Haas, and Sauber. You always learn something new, LOL.

  2. It’s good too see that someone like Andrew Green is sure of being in Force India at the time beyond 2021. Shows that Force India still has some of the most passionate staff in the sport.

  3. Fi, Toro Rosso, Sauber, Williams all are around the 110-120 Million dollar budget, only slight differences.

  4. The only problem with force india is Vijay. Other than that they represent perfectly the spirit of the sport, with an unquestionable passion for racing.

    Also, even though they seem to be behind the pace, for some reason I’m confident that they will turn out in Melbourne with a decent upgraded and ready to go. Their drivers make for an interesting pair with abundant talent.

    If F1 want more fans, they should spread the FI story, their sporting story that is, they are the spirit of what it should be, it was for teams like them that I fell in love with this sport all those years ago (well, they aren’t a lot of years, but still)

    1. @johnmilk
      Vijay has conducted himself perfectly well within F1 as far as I’m aware. It’s not like he’s the only person in F1 with a creative approach to accounting…

    2. sunny stivala
      12th March 2018, 17:17

      If anybody would like to know were F1 got the 1 million that was needed to redesign their Monocoque just google “Maltatoday 7march 2018 8:57am”.

  5. I’m really enjoying these articles. Well done

  6. Force india might slip down the order this time, i would think P7 would be achievable, all these are based on the pre-season reviews by some of the F1 websites. and i dont know what kind of upgrade package they are bringing for the australian grand prix. Their testing time were worse as usual, but this time they have a Mclaren with renault engine and a renault works team to contend with. moreover the Haas team looks promising.

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