The biggest teams in the sport can afford the luxury of running a separate group of boffins to ponder the 2017 conundrum, but Green doesn’t reckon Force India will be at too much of a disadvantage in this situation.
“They may have bigger teams, but the way that the rules are written with respect to development within the aero department, the restrictive testing that we work to, is the same for everybody,” he maintains. “Ferrari might have twice as many people working on it but they’ve got the same amount of testing as we’ve got so it is about being smart, because the richer teams can’t do twice the amount of testing in the tunnel and twice the amount of CFD (computational fluid dynamics). You can’t do that. You’ve got to split it. You’ve got a pot of testing and you’ve got to allocate it. We’ve got exactly the same sized pot as Ferrari and Mercedes.”
While the rules can restrict wind-tunnel and CFD time, you can’t do much about the extra thinking time available to the teams with more personnel, but here too, Andy adheres to the small-is-beautiful philosophy.
Being small gives you that flexibility and the speed of development which the big teams don’t have
“Because my team is so small, I can interact with almost any one of them. I’m not tied to managing large groups of people or sitting in lots of meetings. I can actually focus on the performance of the car almost for my whole day and that doesn’t happen as a team gets bigger.
“I’ve got a small handful of people that I trust implicitly with the job and we interact all the time, bouncing ideas off each other. Someone will come up with an idea or a picture of something and we’ll just have a quick off-the-cuff, ‘Yeah, looks like something we should be giving more thought to or no, you’re too left-field here.’
“In that respect, being small gives you that flexibility and the speed of development which the big teams don’t have. They are like oil tankers in that it takes them a long time to make a change of direction, whereas we can go from being in front of a screen to saying, ‘great idea, bang, let’s get a drawing out, let’s get some of it made.’ Next morning, it’s on your desk and you can try it. We try and get an advantage by being more reactive.”
For the moment therefore, everything is progressing according to schedule within Force India’s factory, but it’s also the calm before the storm. In Formula 1, you are only as good as the other teams let you be and when the cars all hit the track in Barcelona for the first day of testing, what your garage neighbours are wheeling out will be of major interest.
“We’ll wait and see when the big reveal comes off everybody’s cars and we have a quick look round,” reckons Green. “It might be a case of ‘Ooh, crikey! we hadn’t spotted that before’ or someone’s exploited an unknown loophole that no-one was aware of, in which case we will have to assess it pretty quickly to get an idea of whether it’s worth doing the same.
“Given that this tidal wave of work for 2017 is around the corner, it’s going to take a bit of finger in the air, how good do we think it is, is it worth allocating resources – from this pot of resource that I talked about - to something we’ve seen? Or do we just have faith in what we’re doing and just keep developing the car that we’re developing and not spend too much time worrying about which direction the competition’s going in.
“We think we’re moving forward at a reasonable pace relative to the competition. We’re happy to keep our heads down and keep focusing on that. I think the strategy at the moment, as much as we will get distracted when we start seeing other people’s cars, is just to have that belief that what we’re doing is the right thing and just stick with it, especially as this season is potentially only a half season really as far as potential development is concerned, with everyone switching to 2017 work quite early on.”