ON TRACK Turbo Times

Force India Unveils Its 2011 Machine – The VJM04

The Force India VJM04
The Force India VJM04
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The Force India VJM04
The Force India VJM04

The Force India VJM04 is the first car created by the team under its new technical director Andrew Green, who exactly 20 years ago was one of the men behind the original Jordan 191.
Green and rest of the Silverstone-based team faced major challenges created by the changes in the 2011 FIA Technical Regulations, with a cut in downforce and the movable rear wing chief among them. In addition Pirelli has become the new tire supplier, and the teams have agreed to allow the use of KERS again. The result is a car that is very different from its predecessor.
‘Everything is different, but visually a lot of it is subtle,’ says Green, who re-joined the team in July 2010. ‘The most obvious visual change is that we’ve gone away from a conventional roll-hoop to a blade. This gives us a small packaging improvement compared to a more conventional style. The engine cover is different, in-line with the abolition of the F-duct system. But there are a lot of differences under the skin that people won’t necessarily notice.’
The ban on double diffusers and other changes in the rules created a drastic cut in downforce at the rear of the car. Getting it back has been one of the major challenges of the winter.
‘We’ve recovered a lot of the aerodynamic performance, we believe. We still have a little bit to go, but we are still in the process of the realignment after the end of last season, because it does take a long time to move aerodynamically from one position to another. The movable wing is a whole new game, and we’ll be trying to exploit its performance to the max.
‘We’ve also put in a lot of work trying to maximize the potential performance of the new Pirelli tire compounds. To this end we’ve recruited a new senior tire engineer, Jun Matsusaki, to guide us through the development process. The test we recently conducted in Valencia was a good learning exercise.
‘Exhaust management will also be a big area of development this year.  There will be an upgrade for the first race, so there are some changes that will come into effect at the Bahrain test. Further down the line there are some big updates for the front of the car coming in for the first European race.’
Significantly the team has done far more than simply address the new rules. It has also gone back to basics by taking a close look at the fundamentals of last year’s package, and attempted to address key areas of concern.
‘Towards the end of last season there was a drop-off in our relative performance,’ says Green. ‘In theory we were adding performance to the car, but it wasn’t getting translated to the track. We decided to have a very close look at what was happening on the car, and what could be causing this. The bottom line is we didn’t extract the most from the blown diffuser, thus over the winter we’ve taken a reasonable philosophy chance on the aerodynamics of the car in order to try and prevent the sort of drop-off in performance that we saw at the end of last year.’

[Source: Force India]

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