Much progress at Force India

Vijay Mallya is a mover and a shaker in the aviation world. His Kingfisher Airlines, and its sister company Deccan, operate 80 planes but have nearly 200 more planes ordered, mainly from Airbus. This includes 10 of the giant Airbus A380, each of which is capable of transporting 550 people. Kingfisher aim to use these planes to challenge Air India on the routes to the United States. The airline, which began operating only in May 2005, has big ambitions and the relationship with Airbus has now been extended to include help for Force India F1, Mallya's Formula 1 team. There are a number of Airbus engineers who have been seconded to the F1 programme to help the team with its computational fluid dynamics programmes. This is an increasingly important part of F1 development and one which enables engineers to simulate many different aerodynamic solutions without needing to run them all in actual windtunnels. The team is currently using the old Jordan windtunnel in Brackley and the Aerolab facility in Modena, Italy.

The team is aiming for a new car to be introduced in July, replacing the current machine, although this is making good progress in terms of development. The testing this week in Barcelona saw Giancarlo Fisichella going surprisingly fast, although this was largely due to the fact that he ran with 2009-spec tyres.

"With full 2008 settings and tyres, Giancarlo put in strong times that bettered our previous fastest times round here by more than two seconds," said the team's Mike Gascoyne. "We're obviously very pleased with this progress."

The team is also understood to be strengthening its links with Ferrari and will almost certainly use the Italian team's KERS energy-recovery system next year, although it will continue to build its own gearboxes.

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