Force India’s issues caused by Caterham & Marussia

While we focus on the disappearance of Caterham and Marussia from Formula 1’s grid in 2015, we were treated to an explanation by Force India on why the F1 Strategy Group voted no in allowing Marussia the opportunity to field a 2014 chassis this season. The explanation, and I’m paraphrasing here, was along the lines of uncertainty about whom the new owners were and how their long-term financial plan wasn’t proving viability etc.

Force India’s commentary wasn’t received very well by Marussia who offered their own version of the process in which they aim to get back on the grid in 2015. As today’s story tells us, Force India is having challenges of their own and while some say it is purely financial, the team reckon their inability to be present at the first two winter test sessions is…you guessed it, Marussia and Caterham’s fault.

According to a story posted by the redoubtable James Allen, Force India’s Bob Fernley says that Marussia and Caterham’s floundering caused them to be late to the dance and miss testing:

“As you know we’ve recently started working with Toyota’s wind tunnel at their facility in Cologne,” Fernley said. “However, the Toyota people had agreements with Caterham, and quite rightly until they could resolve their Caterham issues we could not move in with our contract.

“We didn’t get the go-ahead until early December, so we were behind schedule before we had even started.

“On top of that we’ve had a few issues with suppliers because they’ve obviously been hurt very badly by the Marussia and Caterham demises,” he added. “They wanted payments up front, which hurt us cash-flow wise, and for one minute I don’t blame the suppliers at all. I would do exactly the same if my financial position had been hurt very badly. But it hasn’t helped us and has meant we’ve had a few slow downs in different areas.

“Is it perfect? No it isn’t, but will we get through? Yes, we will,” he concluded. “It is only cash flow at the end of the day. It’s not that the budget isn’t there, which is the same thing every year. Normally we can get through by working with the suppliers, but this year we couldn’t do that, so it has slowed us down a little.”

So you see? Force India’s issues aren’t that they get £4m of Marussia’s prize money, it isn’t that they themselves are struggling financially, it’s those damnable small teams that have caused the team’s woes.

Suppliers can be like that though, payment up front prior to shipping any material is a reaction to the market and I’ve seen that fist hand when a few organizations have hung manufacturers out to dry with bad debt. It’s a natural reaction toward an industry that they may feel is struggling.

Force India says they hope to make it to the third test with their new car but aren’t holding out hope. That doesn’t bode well for the team if they plan on showing up in Australia having never ran the new car. Cash flow is critical in business and the suggestion is that the overall budget is marked but the outlay of cash demanded up front is placing a strain on the organization.

That sounds tenuous in my opinion as many organizations have a line of credit available to offset cash flow issues over short periods of time. Perhaps Force India doesn’t work that way but regardless, it’s Caterham and Marussia’s fault just the same. IF there was ever a time for a scapegoat and kicking someone when they were down, this is it I guess.

Hat Tip: James Allen on F1

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