BARCELONA (Reuters) - Formula One’s mandatory new ‘halo’ head-protection device has cost Force India a fortune, team technical director Andrew Green said on Monday.
The British-based team, co-owned by Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya, have had to design a new chassis to incorporate the device rather than saving money by carrying over much of last year’s car.
“For a team like us, we’d always look to try and get two years out of the chassis if possible,” Green told reporters on the first day of testing the new VJM11 car at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya.
“In that respect it cost us a huge amount to redevelop and redesign a new chassis - it’s in the hundreds of thousands if not million-dollar mark.”
Green said the device, which extends up from a central pillar to circle the driver’s head and can withstand the weight of a London double-decker bus, did not do the Mercedes-powered team any favours aerodynamically either.
Force India, with Mexican Sergio Perez and Frenchman Esteban Ocon, have finished fourth overall for the past two seasons, beating teams such as Renault and McLaren with far bigger budgets.
They are aiming to make it a hat-trick this year, although they face a big challenge with Williams, McLaren and Renault all seen by pundits as being on the rise.
“It’s been a 10-year journey to bring the team up from the back of the grid and emerge as a top four team. Despite the success, we have the hunger to do even better in 2018,” Mallya said in a statement.
“Everybody keeps telling me that it will be difficult to repeat the double fourth place, but I see no reason why we cannot consolidate our position and improve.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris