Force India is entering a new era it seems – The team wants to catch up to the top 3 by 2021 and investment begins with a new factory and increase of employees.
Despite the team having a fine reputation for ‘punching above their weight’, huge investment in the team is set to begin very soon since the purchase by Stroll and his partners.
“In the second half of the season, we were consistently the fourth-best team,” praises Sergio Perez, who will be driving his sixth season for Force India in 2019 after the recent announcement that the Mexican will be driving for the team next year.
The Silverstone based team are in fact the lowest spenders in 2018, yet are still competing regularly near the top of the midfield. Never before spending more than 100 million euros per season, plans have been put in place to invest in a new factory and employ at least another 100 members of staff in an effort to close up the gap to the front by 2021.
The rapid investment by the new owner Lawrence Stroll is proves he is determined to close the gap to the top three in the next three years, and give his son Lance a shot at proving his mettle with the big boys. For this, the Canadians invested a small fortune in the infrastructure.
The construction of a new factory has meanwhile been decided. By the end of October, the location should be clarified – it is understood to be in the region of 80 million euro investment.
If everything goes according to plan, the factory will be ready for occupancy by the start of the season in 2021. “We will then have all our employees under one roof,” enthuses Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer.
At present, at least 10 engineers are 10 kilometers away from the headquarters in Silverstone in a building in Brackley housing the old wind tunnel. Aerodynamics, model designers, modelers and CFD specialists will soon move closer to the old factory by next year. A makeshift office complex is being built near the simulator building to rejoin the team.
Whether or not a wind tunnel will be built is not certain yet. That depends on whether the FIA further reduces wind tunnel times. In this case, the aerodynamics will continue to perform their test runs at Toyota facility in Cologne.
However, Force India will buy enough land to make room for a wind tunnel if necessary although it would be another investment of 60 million euros.
Stroll senior also wants to increase the team. From currently 410 to 550 employees. “We want to grow step by step, only to take on board those people in whom we have too little,” explains team boss Szafnauer.
At the moment, Force India produces 80 percent of its carbon parts and 40 percent of the metal parts itself.
Astonishingly, last winter the chassis had been built by only 4 people due to a cash flow crisis resulting in a supplier delaying deliveries. Now this should become a thing of the past: “With the new factory, we will also increase our machinery and build more metal components ourselves. The carbon department is not affected, ” claims Szafnauer.
Sergio Perez is convinced that he has put his money on the right horse with Force India.
“Despite the tight finances we were the fourth best team three times in a row. Nobody thought that was possible at the beginning of the season. We were still far behind in the development.
“We will not have that problem again next year. We will be much better prepared to start the new season.
“But we also have to take the next step and close the gap to the top teams. If that one out of midfield, then we can. I want to be part of this story. We have exciting times ahead of us. “