MONTREAL (Reuters) - Force India will test their heavily revised Formula One car in Austria this month with a race debut scheduled for Silverstone in July, deputy team principal Bob Fernley said on Saturday.
“We passed all the crash test requirements this week,” he told Reuters at the Canadian Grand Prix. “We failed the first one, got through the second one and we’re on target to try it out at the test.
“It’s first race program will be Silverstone.”
Fernley had said last month that there was a chance of getting one car ready to race at Spielberg on June 21, with a flip of the coin to determine whether Mexican Sergio Perez or German Nico Hulkenberg drove it.
The coin will no longer be needed.
“The most important thing for us is to have two cars at Silverstone so both drivers have the same opportunity,” said Fernley, who added that both would drive it at the test in Austria that follows the grand prix.
“It’s a very significant departure (from the previous car),” he continued. “It’s the culmination of a massive program that Force India has undertaken over the winter.
“We really haven’t been able to bring any key track improvement since probably Russia last year while we’ve been going through this whole process where we’ve changed the philosophy of how we actually operate our aero department.”
Fernley said the numbers for the ‘B specification’ car at Silverstone looked promising.
“I’m very encouraged and I think the team have done a remarkable job,” he said. “More importantly, we’ve been able to stay in touch with our competitors throughout the period where we’ve been operating a slightly under-performing car.”
Mercedes-powered Force India suffered cash-flow problems before the start of the season that delayed the car build and restricted parts from suppliers.
Their current car did not make its track debut until the third and final pre-season test, two weeks before the start of the season.
However they are sixth in the constructors’ championship after six of 19 races, a point ahead of Lotus and two clear of Toro Rosso.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Justin Palmer