Sahara Force India Formula 1 Team has gone under administration after a hearing on Friday at the High Court in London.
The Silverstone-based team was officially put under administration by the court where the legal counsels of Force India, Mercedes, BWT and Guernsey-based Brockstone were present – the latter linked to Sergio Perez and his manager Julian Jakobi.
As per senior journalist Dieter Rencken, it is Brockstone who initiated the administration process after the team had already filed up for ‘winding up’ earlier this week. However, the push for a quicker resolution meant administration was the way forward.
The news broke overnight during the Hungarian GP, when Reuters confirmed it from the team’s deputy principal Robert Fernley. “An administrator was appointed by the court for Force India F1 this evening,” it said.
Looking at the details on Guernsey-based Brockstone, it is classified under ‘Financial Product Companies’ with Guernsey Registrar, while its business activities goes into ‘management consultancy’. It was incorporated in September 2012.
It seems like Perez is managed by Brockstone whose owner is Jakobi and they have unpaid debt for which they filed the case. While it may look like that Perez is the one going against his team, but a similar issue happened between Kimi Raikkonen and Lotus in 2013.
Meanwhile, a tweet from Rich Energy Ltd – a UK-based energy drinks company – has alleged Perez, Jakobi, Mercedes and BWT for forcing Force India into administration. For some time now, Rich Energy has wanted to partner up with the team but to no avail.
It said, they had 30 million of cash ready to inject into the ailing team, but their sponsorship agreement was rejected as the petitioners/creditors wanted administration as the only route to take back their money.
Despite a last minute £30m cash injection from @rich_energy the court has today put @ForceIndiaF1 into administration. A tragic and avoidable outcome orchestrated by @MercedesAMGF1 @SChecoPerez , Julian Jakobi and BWT. Disgraceful pic.twitter.com/2E9N9WPmKy
— Rich Energy (@rich_energy) July 27, 2018
When asked to explain the tweet, it said: “Perez was lead petitioner for administration with a claim for 4m and Mercedes were largest claimant at court today. So (incredibly) the team’s driver & engine supplier were key in putting it under in concerted effort to force administration and sabotage shareholders”
The team’s COO Otmar Szafnauer was open in the Thursday media session to state about the outfit’s ‘critical’ financial situation, but added that it is only a pain of a ‘week or two’, by when everything will be sorted out.
Szafnauer mentioned that the team will continue to compete in Hungary as well as the post-weekend test and the remainder of the season despite the troubles, but it remains to be seen what happens next in the light of the latest news.
Among the investors and buyers, Lawrence Stroll and Dimitry Mazepin are the two names linked to bail out the team. While the former is said to be buying the whole team, the latter is reported to be only interested in investing in the outfit.
Co-owner Vijay Mallya has remained silent even on social media, but he re-tweeted the story relating to Perez’s case and also Formula Rapida’s story on its young driver Jehan Daruvala winning Race 1 in the European F3 on Saturday.
UPDATE: Following the news, it was revealed that Geoff Rowley and James Baker of FRP Advisory will look over the administration process – the same team which took the case of Marussia/Manor as well.
“We shall be engaging with key stakeholders on an urgent basis to secure the best outcome for creditors,” Rowley said in a statement. “In the meantime, the team will continue to operate as normal, including racing in Hungary this weekend.
“Our aim is for business as usual whilst we assess options to secure the future of the team.” It has also come to light that Mallya has already informed his team at the base and also in Hungary about the news.
The case against the team for administration was brought down by Mercedes, BWT and Brockstone for unpaid dues. Even the last-minute money pumping from Rich Energy was turned down since it wasn’t said to be credible enough.
It is tensed naturally in Hungary’s paddock as Fernley was seen meeting with F1’s boss Chase Carey. Apart from the names of Stroll and Mazepin, several others have been linked to buy-in the outfit in the coming weeks.