The case of Racing Point Force India being able to use the prize for finishing fourth in the last few Formula 1 seasons remains unresolved amid objections.
The sale process of Force India didn’t go as per plans due to the on-going legal issues with the former owners Vijay Mallya and the Sahara Group. And so, the administrators took the second option of selling it as a brand new outfit.
The FIA worked with the FRP Advisory and granted the new ‘Racing Point Force India’ team an entry midway in the 2018 season with all of its points taken away. The license also changed from India to Britain as per the new owners’ registration.
The question then was raised whether the team will be allowed still to get the commericial payment from the FOM for finishing fourth in the last few seasons. The waiver was given a green signal during the Hungarian GP.
However, it was then revealed that Haas had objected on the grounds that the team is a new entry rather than the old self – even though the team management along with the drivers pretty much stayed the same.
The debate has been on-going since with the teams needing clarity on the rule. “I think from the standpoint of being a participant in Formula 1, we’re just looking for an even enforcement of the rules,” said Haas’ owner, Gene Haas.
“Like the stewards in a race they have be non-judgmental and they have to enforce the rules in front of them and every team expects those to be evenly enforced, and our argument with Force India is: is it a new team or a continuation of an existing team, and that’s really where the stumbling block is.
“We went through the process of becoming a new team. We abided by the rules. The big one is the two-out-of-three-year rule and our argument is that if we had to go through that process we feel that with Racing Point if it’s a new team then it really should have to go through the same process we went through.
“So the question for FOM is: is it a new team or the continuation of an existing team. We think it’s pretty obvious to us it’s a new team and therefore should have the rules applied as per the Concorde Agreement.”
The American outfit is certain that Racing Point is a new team. Haas was backed up by McLaren’s Zak Brown, who felt the same and hoped that such issues doesn’t happen in the future and the rules are set with clarity.
“I agree with what Gene has said,” said Brown. “Take a step back: obviously very happy that a Formula 1 team continues in business, that’s good for the sport, but what it did highlight were some of the governance issues and inconsistencies in the sport that need to be tackled moving forward.
“So I hope that what we do is we learn by this event and other events and not have things be chaotic, as it kind of was. There were different waivers flying around and it was in and it was out, it’s a new team, it’s not, and I think more than anything the sport needs to learn by some of these holes and get a better governance system in place.”
However, Williams came in support of Force India. The Grove-based team had signed the wavier to allow them to use the prize money. Claire Williams felt that even though the team is new, the management is still the same.
“Williams has signed the waiver that everybody knows about that would see Force India receive their prize money payments,” she said. “We’re happy with that. I think from our perspective, the team is operating as it did prior to Lawrence buying it, acquiring it, and so we don’t necessarily consider it to be a new team, as such.
“I believe, as Gene just said, there are still some issues that need to be ironed our behind the scenes with FOM and the FIA. We’ll wait to see what happens.” While the issue persists, Force India is already preparing itself for a future step.
Reports emerged during the weekend about a new facility being discussed to be ready by the 2021 season while the team also increasing its capacity by nearly 100 personnel to help it break into the Top 3 in the near future.
Not much details has surfaced thus far on the management side with only Otmar Szafnauer named CEO and Team Principal. However, documents registered last month revealed three names with Lawrence Stroll and Silas Kei Fong Chou with significant shares in the company.