Force India not losing tech boss until 2011

Mark Smith (GBR), Force India F1 Design Director. Formula One Testing, Day One, Jerez, Spain, Wednesday 10 February 2010.

Mark Smith

Jun.8 (GMM) Force India will not lose its newly-appointed technical director to bitter rivals Lotus until after the start of next season.

It was announced last week that Mark Smith, who only replaced the Sauber-bound James Key in February, will join Lotus along with two of his colleagues “at the end of his Force India notice period”.

But Silverstone based Force India’s boss and co-owner Vijay Mallya on Tuesday said the technical team “is still very much intact”.

“Mark will stay with us until April 2011 and we will, in due course, announce a structure that will take us to the next level of performance,” said the Indian billionaire.

“I’m very comfortable with where we are as a team and where we are going.”

Mallya also played down the impact of Force India’s legal action against Lotus, Mike Gascoyne and the Italian wind tunnel Aerolab.

“The structure and any off track events are for me to worry about, so the team can get on with doing what they do best at the track,” he said.

Also on Tuesday, Mallya announced that Vitantonio Liuzzi will switch to a different VJM03 chassis at this weekend’s Canadian grand prix.

“Tonio will also revert back to the chassis used for the first four races as we continue to look into why he’s got the lack of grip,” he said.