Force India strengthen partnership with Mercedes

LONDON Thu Mar 28, 2013 4:22pm IST

Force India Formula One driver Adrian Sutil of Germany drives during the second practice session of the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix at Sepang International Circuit outside Kuala Lumpur, March 22, 2013. REUTERS/Samsul Said

Force India Formula One driver Adrian Sutil of Germany drives during the second practice session of the Malaysian F1 Grand Prix at Sepang International Circuit outside Kuala Lumpur, March 22, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Samsul Said

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LONDON (Reuters) - The Force India Formula One team announced on Thursday an expansion of their partnership with engine supplier Mercedes from 2014 and also signalled the end of a technical agreement with McLaren.

Force India said they had signed a long-term agreement with the German manufacturer which would include a supply of gearboxes and hydraulic systems that are currently provided by McLaren Applied Technologies.

A team spokesman confirmed that the McLaren partnership would end.

"Our new agreement with Mercedes-Benz for the coming years is the most significant in the history of Sahara Force India," said team principal Vijay Mallya in a statement that did not mention McLaren.

"With new powertrain regulations being introduced next year, I can't think of a better partner to work with as Formula One enters a new and exciting era.

"The agreement gives us the long-term stability we require and will enable us to continue our journey towards the front of the Formula One grid."

Formula One will have a new engine from 2014, abandoning the current 2.4 litre V8 for a turbocharged 1.6 litre V6 with a kinetic and heat energy recovery system.

Thursday's announcement was the first long-term agreement signed by Mercedes with a customer team for the new power unit.

"This long-term agreement offers excellent value in terms of the balance between price and performance. We hope it will mean Mercedes-Benz and Sahara Force India working together for the entire life cycle of the new powertrain generation," said Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff.

Mercedes have provided Force India with engines since 2009 and, as well as having their own team, also currently power McLaren.

McLaren have said they will continue with Mercedes next season but have dodged questions about a possible switch to Honda in subsequent years.

"We have a contract that covers the next three seasons at the moment and we will certainly go into next year with Mercedes-Benz," McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh told reporters this month.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Justin Palmer)

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