Force India is another one of Formula 1’s perennial midfield teams and one which has appeared and re-appeared in various forms and with different owners numerous times over the past few decades. With its origins as the plucky and occasionally successful Jordan team, Force India has a heritage which is somewhat longer and more accomplished than it first appears.
Financial issues however continue to plague the team and Manor aside, it was Force India that seemed most likely to fall short and not make the grid in Melbourne this year. Mounting debts and owners who are in trouble with the authorities in their native India mean that once again the future is from secure.
Force India F1
Having enjoyed considerable success in feeder single seater series such as F3 and F3000, Irishman Eddie Jordan decided bravely (or foolishly) to take the plunge and enter Formula 1 with his own team in 1991. By luck or judgement, the team had an impressive debut with the distinctive green car and not only scared a few of the established teams with their antics but also introduced a certain Michael Schumacher to the Formula 1 grid. The following seasons however were far more difficult and Jordan struggled to score more than a handful of points until world champion Damon Hill arrived in 1998 and scored the team’s first win (a 1-2 with Ralf Schumacher) in the rain in Belgium. Jordan had finally come of age and Heinz Harald Frentzen even challenged for the championship briefly in 1999.
Eddie sold up and made a personal fortune but left the team without investment and grim years on the back row as Spyker and Midland seemed destined to continue when Vijay Mallaya bought the team and rebranded it as Force India in 2008. Expectations were low, but the team has impressed of late and a technical tie-up with Mercedes has brought decent results including the odd podium finish. Financial strains are still evident but the team continues to challenge its bigger rivals and punch well above its weight.
Where is it ?
The Force India factory is housed on the site of the original Jordan one right outside the gates of the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit. Despite being branded as India’s national team, this is right at the heart of the British countryside and close to the centre of the UK’s motorsport valley. It’s about as far from Delhi as you can imagine.
Quiet for much of the year, Silverstone erupts each July with visitors to the Grand Prix and the Force India factory becomes surrounded by temporary campsites and besieged by race fans trying to get a glimpse of drivers or machinery inside. The smell of barbecues and the scream of the car’s engines makes its way inside the office buildings to add to the party atmosphere. SFI driver Nico Hulkenberg gives you a factory tour below (starts at 5min45s).
The team has recently moved its windtunnel operation from nearby Brackley to Cologne in Germany in order to take advantage of the superb facilities vacated by the old Toyota F1 team. How this split site compromise will work remains to be seen as the logistics of communication and moving parts across Europe will be difficult and time consuming.
What is it like to work there?
Prior to the arrival of Red Bull and its lavish energy station and carefree image, the Irish banter of Jordan was seen as the party team of the Formula 1 paddock. Eddie Jordan himself would often get in stage and play the drums to entertain the crowds. Jordan was definitely the showman. Force India has continued that theme and each season millionaire owner Vijay Mallalya entertains A-list celebrities alongside team employees on his lavish yacht, the Indian Empress, in Monaco. It’s a hard life.
Back at the factory however, the fun was not always quite as apparent and Eddie did not invest in the team anywhere near as much as he should have done. Debts and ageing facilities still plague the team in its current form. The late arrival of the 2015 car was a clear indication that all was not well at Silverstone and tales of legal action by suppliers to reclaim outstanding payments were rife.
Nothing in motor racing is stable but Force India is clearly at the dangerous end of the grid in terms of its financial position. You might find that having worked incredibly hard for your chance to work in F1 that you are at risk of either redundancy or perhaps even the whole team collapsing and you should go into it with your eyes open and be prepared.
Despite the regular turnover of team owners since the Jordan days, the technical team at Force India remains loyal as current technical director Andrew Green was one of the very first Jordan F1 employees back in 1991. With an army of enthusiastic engineers, production staff and 2 well respected drivers alongside him, Green has managed to keep Force India in the midfield and a mid-season upgrade seems to have breathed new life into the team. Force India are a team who are hard to knock down and are racers in the truest sense of the word.
Silverstone itself is a small village, with only a handful of small shops to mention beyond the perimeter of the Grand Prix circuit itself and not a great deal to remark upon. When there is not a race on, there is not much to do but the regional capital of Northampton is just a short drive away. It might give a grandstand view on Grand Prix weekend but this is a quiet corner of motorsport compared to McLaren or Ferrari and partygoers should not expect to live the high life.
How do I get a job there?
In terms of overall size, Force India is one of the smallest teams on the F1 grid but they have expanded over past few seasons since their rebranding and continue to have ambition to take on the big boys. Vacancies are generally advertised on their website or in the motorsport press.
Being a small team, the turnover of roles is modest compared to its bigger rivals and some of the more specialist roles that you see in those teams are likely to be missing at Force India.
Where do I find out more ?
The following film was a behind the scenes feature with Sahara Force India carried out by Sky TV with Martin Brundle.
Force India recently ran a competition to allow a member of the public to experience the Itailian Grand Prix from inside the team. The winner gives some interesting insight into what the atmosphere is like within the paddock which you can read by clicking here
Start your career right here
If you would like to work for Force India or any of the other teams on the F1 grid you can join over 2500 other Formula 1 hopefuls by subscribing to future posts from Job in F1. You can also discover everything you need to know start your own F1 career with a copy of the ultimate guidebook to F1 careers. Click here to instantly get your copy.