Force India launched their 2010 challenger, the VJM03, at their Silverstone base today, and already Team Principal Vijay Mallya is aiming high for the season ahead.

“Our goal is to continue on the same path of performance improvement that we had at the end of 2009,” said Mallya. “I don’t think I am being over-proud when I say 2009 was an exceptional year for us. The bare statistics say it all: one podium, one pole position, one fastest lap, a further five top 10 starts and 13 points. We’ve learnt from our experiences and we’ve come out a better team: resilient, resourceful and now resurgent. I hope 2010 will see this great progress carrying forward. We’ve got one podium so far but I would hope that, this time next year, I’m talking about more points and more podiums. I’m confident we can get this, why not aim high?”

Rather than take a radical approach to their new car like McLaren or Renault, Force India have instead built up on their 2009 car as a solid base – which showed pace at the low downforce tracks like Monza and Spa, where it even scored a Pole Position at the latter in the hands of Giancarlo Fisichella.

‘The VJM03 is definitely an evolution of the VJM02 in terms of the design philosophies we have developed at Force India over the last year,” explains Design Director Mark Smith. “We are very happy with the direction, therefore we have opted to evolve the car rather than significantly revise.”

“Obviously one of the major aspects we have had to contend with are regulation changes which have had a considerable impact on some aspects of the design of the car. The removal of refuelling from races increases the amount of fuel needed to be stored in the cars – almost twice the amount we ran in 2009. There is a compromise now: either make the car much longer or wider, or, as we have done, a combination of both. This of course has influenced the mechanical design solutions and also the aerodynamics, specifically with respects to the diffuser and bodywork.

“Even with the ban of double diffusers for 2011, we recognise that we still have to push as much as we possibly can in this area in 2010 as we have targets to meet and the double diffuser is a key development aspect of the car.”

“2010 is a really important season and we are very optimistic about going well,” said lead driver Adrian Sutil. “I think this year it’s important to be consistent from the first race. I’d like to be in the midfield and be competitive from Bahrain.”

Vitantonio Liuzzi was in a similarly confident mood to Sutil ahead of the season opener at Bahrain;  “After one and a half years in a test role, I feel really prepared, both physically and mentally for a full race season. My objective is to be as strong and consistent as possible and give good feedback to the team to help them improve. For sure scoring points as many times as I can is going to be the key and you never know, perhaps we can get something more as well if everything comes together.”

Force India will kick off their winter testing program at Jerez tomorrow with Liuzzi driving for the first two days, followed by Sutil for the next two. Test driver Paul di Resta will also get his first run in the new VJM03 next Wednesday, also at Jerez.

‘After one and a half years in a test role, I feel really prepared, both physically and mentally for a full race season. My objective is to be as strong and consistent as possible and give good feedback to the team to help them improve. For sure scoring points as many times as I can is going to be the key and you never know, perhaps we can get something more as well if everything comes together.’