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Monday, November 10, 2008

Is Force India now a B team?

Force India announced its expected deal with McLaren-Mercedes for gearboxes, hydraulic systems and engines.

The five year agreement, which includes technical support from McLaren, and the team’s kinetic engine recovery system (KERS), fall short of a full customer car arrangement.

“These new resources and developments will provide an enormous boost to our technical armoury and, as a result, we have high hopes of making good progress in 2009 and beyond,” Sky reports team owner Vijay Mallya said.

The team used Ferrari power in its debut season, but Mallya made the decision to break that deal, a move that was accompanied by a split with team principal Colin Kolles and technical head Mike Gascoyne.

Of course, this begs the question, is Force India now a B-team? No, says McLaren-Mercedes CEO Martin Whitmarsh.

“This isn't a takeover by McLaren,” he told Reuters.

Yet comments reported by F1-Live paint a picture of what this partnership may entail.

“There's nothing off-bounds in this partnership,” Whitmarsh said. “We will make proposals and recommendations that we think are enhancing the prospect of good performance from this team. I suspect he (Mallya) has some staggering business commitments outside of Formula One and he would expect us, as specialists and professionals in this field, to be making all of the recommendations that are necessary to ensure that we go forward.”

As part of the deal, McLaren's former operations director, Simon Roberts, will be Force India's chief operations officer.

And while Mallya has gone on record saying he wants to retain Adrian Sutil and Giancarlo Fisichella for 2009, he does not rule out McLaren having input on his drivers.

“They (McLaren) will recommend what they believe to be in the best interests of my team and I have to decide. And I would be hard pressed to ignore their advice,” he told Reuters.
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