The Force India team is hoping to follow up its maiden pole position and podium in 2009 with a more consistent campaign in 2010, and testing has begun well with Adrian Sutil second fastest on the final day at Jerez and fifth quickest overall.
The team's chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer spoke about the development of the VJM03 and the team's aspirations for the coming season.
Q. You've been at the team since October. What do you make of it so far?
Otmar Szafnauer: It's a very efficient little team – and I say little comparing it to where I came from, it's probably one third the size of the teams I'm used to [BAR, Jaguar and Honda]. Having said that, it's probably not so little any more because teams are getting smaller and some of the new teams are definitely smaller than we are, so we're maybe a midfield team now.
It's very efficiently run. All the jobs have to get done, as they do at a big team. We still run a wind tunnel and development program. We still do all the upgrade packages that every other team does, just with fewer people. To be able to do that you have to be much more efficient, people have to do more than one role, have multiple jobs within the team. That happens and I like it.
For the resources the team has compared to some of the big ones to be on pole position last year, finish second in a race, qualifying third in Brazil, is amazing. As some of the others get smaller and some of the new teams get a bit bigger, I think we're going to be well placed to be competitive.
Q. Is it realistic to think you can repeat the Spa performance?
OS: We tried over the winter to enhance the places where we were deficient last year without losing the places we were very good. Can we repeat it? That's very much dependent on what our competition does. However, we did focus on not losing the aero efficiency that we had so there is every possibility that we will be strong on those circuits.
Q. What is the target for this year?
OS: We'll try to continue on the same path where we finished the season, so at the start of this season we should be much stronger than we were at the start of last season. So with that should come regular points finishes, starting scoring points from the beginning, and have the occasional podium.
In the World Championship, if we're fifth or sixth – above the median – that would be a successful season. We finished ninth last year, and if we can move up another three or four positions, we're on the right track.
Q. The team is the most stable it has been for a long time, do you have the feeling of a stable team that is evolving?
OS: Yes. I wasn't there for the times of instability so I don't have that point of reference. But what I do see is exactly that. People know there is a long-term plan at the team, there isn't a plan to drastically change anything soon, the driver lineup is the same. We're putting some more resources in places to utilize our wind tunnel to its fullest, we have increased our CFD capability to five times what we had, we're now putting in the human resources in place to be commensurate with that CFD capability. All these things are investment in the team for performance reasons and that shows stability.
Q. Do you feel the team is still reaping the benefits of the relationship with McLaren and Mercedes?
OS: Absolutely. Both are great partners. We have the McLaren gearbox, and those are the two places you have the most reliability issues. Both companies are very professional and know what they're doing, we have a very good relationship with them and that will help us as well. We don't have to focus on those areas, they perform well and we can focus on other areas. For a team our size, that does help.