Surviving in Formula 1 is very complex and difficult, with teams often coming and going, the sport has seen its share of “refreshing” cycles. Thus, especially after Marussia and Caterham’s likely permanent departure from F1, news about a team struggling is nothing new or astonishing.
The domino started to crumble from 2014:
As soon as the two backbenchers folded up last year just before the United States Grand Prix, the next 3 teams in line, (the so called midfield teams of F1) Force India, Sauber and Lotus, started making statements about financial instability. It was vocally portrayed by them that, they needed extra cash in order to run next season (the 2015 one). But it was reported earlier this year, and partly last year, that they all were secured financially, and would race in the new season. And attesting that, recently both Lotus and Sauber both launched, and successfully, tested their respective cars during first pre-season test at Jerez, Spain. But, interestingly, Force India were missing from that list, and an official explanation read that the team’s new car VJM08 was not ready, and the team wanted to take some more time to complete it. This was also partly true (at least their excuse was) to some extent because of the squad’s recent decision of switching to a new wind tunnel in Germany. But of course, conclusions had to be drawn and the world wanted to know whether there anything more to the story.
Force India’s new car is set to give the second test a miss:
Unfortunately, it was revealed earlier this week that by the team that they might miss the second pre-season test too or at least their new car might. The team has all but confirmed that they will take their old car to the test venue at Barcelona. This also fuelled a very legitimate, but still very shocking, rumor that the Indian team will miss the season opening Australian Grand Prix. The team has of course vehemently denied the rumors as baseless, but their suspicious behavior has raised some eyebrows. At least regarding bill payments and pre-season tests, and if you add two with two, it is not making sense.
The shaky hierarchy of the team:
The first two of that four comes here, in the form of the proprietors of the squad. Force India is of course owned in partnership by Indian businessmen duo of Vijay Mallya and Subrata Roy and by the Mol family of Holland. But the two Indians are the main and the controlling owners of the team, and back home; their position on the legal front is not great at all. While Mallya is a “willful defaulter” in India, Roy is facing even heavier charges of fraud, and currently, he is in jail. Even though the team is operating this way since last year, there have been no issues
regarding the working-environment of the team. But since the owners are facing hefty legal issues in India, it is quite certain that the team will get affected, or at least face the water-drops of the pouring rain.
The beneficiary from Marussia not racing:
It was no secret that, at the end of last year, all the mid-field teams were looking for a cash injection help from Bernie Ecclestone. But one of the most interesting moves which Force India have made this year is that; they have indirectly vetoed Marussia’s comeback to F1. Of course it is not sure that they acted alone, and since money was involved, you can always second guess. With Marussia’s 2014 prize money now set to be divided amongst the 9 remaining teams, which will be close to around 3 million pounds per team; a cash injection is a welcome for everyone. And with Force India’s operating budget last year was, reportedly, close to 100 million pounds, an extra 3% will not hurt anyone.
The questions remains, are they really facing a crisis?
3 million pounds may seem petty for F1, but ultimately that might be one of the reasons why Force India might, or might not, reach Australia or beyond, such cut throat the business is. Besides, after a high-profile livery launch in Mexico last month, the chances then, and are now, was that the 2015 season is on for Force India. But these innuendo, or at least that is what the team is claiming them to be, might have some weightage. And the more, they deny and make us wait, and tell us to be patient, the more anxiety it will create round the paddock. However, knowing how merciful, at some cases at least, or cruel Formula 1 can be everything is possible; we just have to wait for the train to arrive. Plus, always remember, it only takes one hand and a trigger to jump the gun, at least in terms of rumors from the media.