Time running out for Force India

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Photo by: www.kymillman.com/f1

Last year was a good year for Force India. This year isn’t. After finishing “best of the rest” in 2017, the little team that could has fallen prey to the big owner that didn’t in Vijay Mallya. The troubled Indian team owner is facing a series of tax issues in India and now the team is facing a wind—up order in British courts soon.

All of this is the detail…the chaos and tragedy that belies a team that, apart from the financial drama, is helmed by some of the paddock’s top racers. If getting a Mercedes engine was the answer to all your problems and a sure way to the front, Williams F1 would be battling for top 5 results but that isn’t the case and nor was it for Force India. No, they had to earn their points the hard way by pairing the grid’s best engine with a strong chassis and healthy aerodynamic package.

That has all been done for the past few seasons on a limited budget and an owner on the run. How does a team manage to participate in the Formula 1 world championship, finish best of the rest and do so with an anemic budget and owner that can’t leave the UK for fear of extradition to India? It’s nothing short of commendable.

Force India chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer says the team needs new investment ahead of a winding-up petition.

Force India’s driver, Sergio Perez, said the situation was “critical” on Thursday after a hearing by HM Courts & Tribunal Service in Britain.

Force India has been the team “most likely to sell” in recent months but it has been said that Mallya’s asking price was too high. Regardless, it is now circulating that Lawrence Stroll may be buying/investing in the team even though he has a stake in Williams F1. Szafnauer said: “I think it’s imminent.

“I know there’s discussions going on in the background and I’m not privy to those because it’s a shareholder issue.

“I’m not a shareholder otherwise I would know more. It will be very soon.”

It’s a real shame and I hope the team doesn’t just get an investor but a completely new owner with serious aspirations for F1—similar to Haas F1. The team and its personnel are too good to let drift into F1 antiquity. They’ve shown the ability to do more with less and overcome competitive adversity but in the end, you have to have some cash to keep the lights on so let’s hope it materializes soon.

Hat Tip: Autosport

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JohnTheRaceFan

There are reports that Lawrence Stroll (Lance’s dad, hereafter known as Larry) may be buying or buying into Force India.
If that is true, the Stroll money moving to Force India (presumably along with Lance) would put Williams in a similar financial vice, would it not? (The legal issues surrounding current team principals being left out of the equation, of course.)

Tim C

It’s a shame that Vijay Mallya would hold out on serious offers to buy the team in hopes that he would get little more money. I know it’s a business, but if the team goes under, how much does he think he would get them? Sad, so very sad.

JakobusVdL

I see that Mallya isn’t the only, or the majority, shareholder of Force India. So its possible that VJ isn’t the one holding out on a deal.

Lemongrab

Canadian speaking here – as much as I want to root for Lance, he makes it hard with his entitled whininess. While he has the potential to be a decent driver (and we must remember that he is very, very young – Max can be just as whiny in a far better circumstance), I would worry that StrollF1 wouldn’t want a legit driver with the ability to demolish Lance in equal equipment. So, another pay driver? One of FI’s greatest strengths has been its driver lineups – hopefully Perez or Ocon can stay and help raise Lance’s game, even if… Read more »

Junipero

What would it mean for Lance to win in his Dad’s car? All Formula One drivers need financial help to get to where they are, but this seems on another level entirely.

If “Stroll F1” produced a winning car, Lance is certainly capable of putting it there. But in my mind it would be a hollow victory because everyone would think its the car, not the driver.

Or if Lance proves successful against his hypothetical teammate, why would Ferrari, or Mercedes take him, when he might have less backing from his father whose team he just left?

MIE

I don’t follow your logic. Stroll’s money hasn’t made Williams a front running team, why would it turn Force India into a dominant car?

I don’t think anyone thought less of Jack Brabham’s third world title because he won in a car of his own. Were Stroll to win the title in a Stroll car he would be only the second driver in the history of the sport to win in his own car.

JakobusVdL

Fourth! jm1138x, is contemplating a “winning car”, not necessarily a “championship winning car”. Dan Gurney and Bruce McLaren have also won F1 races in their own cars. Only Brabham won a drivers championship.
While Brabham, McLaren and Gurney are (rightfully) legends for designing and or engineering the cars they won in, I think having your Dad buy a team, and let you drive for him, wouldn’t deserve quite the same kudos

MIE

True, but it still doesn’t follow that Force India would turn into a winning team just because Stroll bought it.

Drivers don’t win in F1 without talent. If Stroll does win in the future it will demonstrate that he has some talent.

Even when Maldonado won in 2012, there was no doubt about the fact that he was fast, it was just his ability in close proximity to other cars that caused problems.

JakobusVdL

Quite right Dave, unless LM really can impose an effective $150 m budget cap, and create an even playing field for the Teams.
F.I and any of the other privateers are $200m to $300m a year short having a winning car.
The 2012 Williams, 2013 Lotus (and 2009 Brawn?) were rare exceptions to the ‘biggest budget wins’ rule of F1.

JakobusVdL

Some other sites are saying that FI have already been placed into administration, and that Sergio Perez and his management team are behind an application against FI. Also that application is backed by Mercedes. Both parties are owed substantial amounts of money. The articles on the sites all refer to the post below, https://www.racefans.net/2018/07/27/perez-behind-legal-proceedings-force-india-administration-over-4m-debt/ I’m not sure how credible the site or the information are. The other articles, mostly quoting Otto Szafnaur, seem to think that the sale of FI is basically a done deal, but that FI going through a short period of administration is a necessary part of… Read more »