PUNE: Business tycoon Vijay Mallya owned Force India Formula One team on Monday unveiled the new car (VJM11) for the 2018 season as the pre-season testing got underway at the Circuit the Catalunya on Monday.
Team’s drivers Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon took the covers off the new car before the VJM11 donning pink livery hit the tarmac.
Force India has been a ‘force’ to reckon with in the midfield battle after the top three teams and has finished fourth in the Constructors’ standing for the last two seasons.
If that wasn’t enough punching above the weight, Mexican Perez and Frenchman Ocon earned the seventh and eighth finish in drivers’ standings. The duo didn’t just give other midfield teams run for their money, but their on-field rivalry also forced the team to put ‘team orders’ of not racing each other in place.
But that is all past now and in their eye-catching pink livery, Force India will once again look to catch others off-guard and look to consolidate their position in the upcoming season which starts in Melbourne on March 25.
Perez, who turned 28 in January, is raring to go after missing the driving.
“You always miss driving the car during the winter so it’s exciting when you come back to the track and feel the speed of F1 again,” said the driver, who will be in his fifth year with the team.
On the other hand, youngster Esteban Ocon is feeling at home as for the first time in his career he will be racing for the same team for the second consecutive year.
“I’m feeling happy, relaxed and confident ahead of the new season. I know the team very well by now and those strong, established relationships really make a difference. It’s the first time in my career that I’ve stayed in the same team two years in a row so it’s a new experience for me. At the start of last year, I had to learn everything almost from zero, but I’m already up to speed now, which will help,” said the 21-year-old Mercedes prodigy, who had a stellar debut season.
Halo makes headlines
The most eye-catching thing about the 2018 F1 cars is the installation of halo device, a driver safety measure, a thing drivers and everyone related to the F1 fraternity still getting used to.
“I am not used to it yet. I have only tried it once with Manor back in 2016 and it will take some time to get used to it. It certainly impacts on your visibility because it’s a big change, but the safety benefits are important. I know some of the fans don’t like it, but I think they will get used to it quite quickly,” said Ocon.
His team-mate too echoed the sentiment about the new element on the cars, as the non-existence of Shark-fin takes a back seat.
“I’ve tried it a few times and didn’t have any major issues with the visibility. It’s just a different feeling when you are in the car, but something you adapt to quite quickly. It’s impressive when you realise just how strong it makes the car,” said the Mexican driver.