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Force India team up with McLaren-Mercedes

Posted by Yogesh on Monday, 10 November, 2008

SILVERSTONE, England, Nov 10 (Reuters) – Force India hope to be challenging for Formula One race wins by 2010 after announcing a five-year partnership with McLaren and Mercedes on Monday.

The deal, presented to factory employees by principal Vijay Mallya and McLaren’s Martin Whitmarsh, will see the team use the same engines and gearbox as those in world champion Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren.

The team also plan to use a KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) developed by Mercedes and McLaren and will have access to McLaren’s network of suppliers as well as operational support.

“From my perspective, I think I can certainly aspire to winning races maybe in 2010,” Mallya told Reuters. “But for 2009 I will be very happy if we are regularly in the points. That would be already a major step forward.

Force India failed to score a point this year and Mallya carried out a major management restructuring last week, with team principal Colin Kolles and technical head Mike Gascoyne both leaving.

The existing engine deal with McLaren’s title rivals Ferrari, the champions who powered the independent Toro Rosso team to victory in their home Italian Grand Prix this year, was also terminated a year early.

The ties with McLaren were further tightened by the appointment of McLaren’s former director of operations Simon Roberts as Force India’s chief operations officer.


However Whitmarsh and Mallya stressed that Force India would remain an independent constructor, in compliance with the sport’s governing Concorde Agreement, and was not about to become a ‘B’ team.

“This isn’t a takeover by McLaren,” said Whitmarsh.

“I look forward to the day, and I will have a big smile, when we see Force India on the podium. Obviously I hope that we (McLaren) have two cars on the upper steps.

“We are in Formula One to compete and I would be disappointed if the management of Force India aren’t looking forward to the day when they give McLaren a hard time on the track,” added the McLaren chief.

“If someone is going to beat us in the future, at the moment I’d rather it was a Force India than someone else.”

The deal marks a significant departure for Mercedes, who own 40 percent of McLaren and have since 1995 supplied only the Woking team.

Sauber were the last ‘customer’ team to use Mercedes-badged engines, in 1994. However those engines were built by Ilmor, before the company was taken over by Mercedes.

Whitmarsh dismissed any concern about the new deal diluting his team or Mercedes’s championship efforts.

“I believe we can bring business benefit to this organisation and I hope that we can learn some things, not just operationally,” he said.

“We are going to learn lessons by looking over the shoulder of Force India and take stock of some of the things we do.

“I believe we will become stronger as a consequence of this,” added Whitmarsh. “I would not have gone into this unless I believed it was going to help us win world championships in the future.”

Mallya, whose business interests range from the Kingfisher airline to beer and spirits, said his team would be in good shape by the time India hosted a grand prix for the first time.

“Bernie Ecclestone has declared plans to stage an Indian Grand Prix in 2011…by which time Force India Formula One team will be exactly that: a Formula One force in, and for, India.” Source Reuters


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