2010 — the year Force India peaked?

There’s another management shuffle at Force India, following on the heels of James Key leaving the now solidly mid-pack squad.

Question is: How many top people can leave before the team falls back toward the rear of the grid?

This time, the exiting party is Mark Smith, who had already announced he was jumping ship to whatever it is we are allowed to call the Lotus squad without getting into legal trouble.

He’ll be replaced as technical director by an internal candidate: Andy Green.

So is this news? Well… in a slow news week, sure. But I do think this aspect is telling (via Autosport) and worth thinking about:

But rather than hiring someone, the team has revealed that it will promote engineering director Green, who had previously worked with Virgin and Red Bull Racing.

“When Mark leaves, which will probably be towards the end of this year/early next year, we have Andrew Green, who is going to take his place,” said Force India CEO Otmar Szafnauer.

“We’ve made some internal restructuring as well to take up the gap that James [Key] left, and all that will happen at the start of next year. We’ve got a good plan to overcome the fact that we had two of the key people leave.”

Szafnauer is confident that Green is the right man to lead the team from now on.

“Although he is not a big name, he has been around a long time, knows the team well and is a good competent designer/engineer – so the ideal man to lead the team in the right direction.”

I especially stumble on the “internal restructuring” concept for Force India. I understand the value of consistency and “institutional knowledge” as a team builds, but this sounds to me more like a case of they used to have six people managing things and now they have four. Maybe just three. And I’m not convinced the team has a “good plan” to overcome the departures of two key people.

In other words, Force India’s drivers better finish these next three races, and in the points. Because next year the team might be looking up at Williams, Sauber, maybe Toro Rosso. Heck… maybe even Lotus, if it doesn’t get its stuff together.

And that doesn’t even raise the issue of its driver lineup, although Paul di Resta just won his third DTM race in a row and now leads that series. For what that’s worth.

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