During the European season, guests of Force India can relax in a newly refurbished, three-storey hospitality unit from the Turkish Grand Prix onwards.
With the shorter distances between races, all the teams bring their own bespoke structures where they can entertain guests, provide the team with meals, and give the drivers a place to relax between sessions.
The new Force India unit uses the same steel and glass framework of their 2008 and 2009 construction but has undergone major refurbishment both internally and externally.
The team say that more than 1,000 man hours have gone into designing the motorhome. ‘Project leader’, team manager Andy Stevenson, explains why the renovations were necessary. “Just like any part on the car, we looked at what we needed it to do, evaluated whether it satisfied these requirements and, if not, what we needed to do to ensure that it did.
“The structure we used in 2009 and 2008 was still in very good condition and the [350 square metres] it afforded us was perfect, but internally it needed some pretty major tweaks based on the use it had over the last two seasons. We looked at this use in depth and made a plan accordingly over the winter.”
“Last season the use of each of the floors overlapped slightly. The ground floor was used for team and guests, the second floor for team and drivers and the third floor for Dr Mallya’s guests and meeting area. Overall, when we looked at it, nobody really had the ideal situation. We needed to revisit each floor.”
For anyone lucky enough to visit it during the course of the season, Force India have helpfully provided details of the new layout. The ground floor is now a space for guests and media, where they are greeted by a new welcome desk with computerised guest lists that will even recognise drink preferences when a visitor says their name. This floor contains an integrated bar area with flat screen TVs and a ‘chill out’ area where guests can read newspapers or team updates.
“The ground floor has been a challenge,” Stevenson says. “The whole area has been re-fitted. The floor has been relaid with a wood laminate to make it more durable but also more in-keeping with the cooler decoration, the electrics completely rewired and the air conditioning units replaced so the whole area stays cool. This has been done in close consultation with Dr Mallya, who takes guest hospitality very seriously.”
The second floor will be the domain of the drivers and the team. It features a meeting room, a marketing office and two extended driver and treatment rooms for Adrian Sutil and Tonio Liuzzi, the two race drivers. A kitchen will provide the team with fresh meals.
The top floor remains Vijay Mallya’s guest and meeting area which now a terrace overlooking the paddock. The area has been completely refitted to provide the team owner with an office, reception area and a guest-zone with panaromic and sound proof windows.
“It’s been a major undertaking,” says the ‘project manager’. “But we feel in the end that it has been worth it. As a team, the biggest selling point you have – apart from on track performance – is the experience you can offer to guests, sponsors and potential partners. We want to excel in every area this year and we’re confident that this new refurb will help us achieve this.
“Given the overall benefit we will have, both long and short term, we’re quite happy to wait for an additional two races to have a perfect motorhome for our needs. The first build always takes some time to get spot-on and rather than have to revisit again later in the year, we want it right first time.
“In the meantime we will use a temporary motorhome in Spain and Monaco while the new improved motorhome is driven direct to Turkey. It will be impressive and something the whole team can be proud of when we see it return in 2010.”
The new structure weighs more than 40 tonnes, and will take 10 people up to three days to construct, which is more time than it takes the team to build the cars.