Force India being placed into administration had been on the horizon for some time. It turns out the team’s situation was triggered by legal action being taken by Sergio Perez and his manager, Julian Jakobi, after the team was unable to pay his salary. Other parties backed Perez’s position, including engine and gearbox supplier Mercedes and sponsor BWT.
But although that seems like an aggressive move by a driver against his team, COO Otmar Szafnauer certainly isn’t blaming Perez, telling Autosport:
“There can’t be any animosity. Whatever happens, like everybody else, Checo is entitled to be paid. Unfortunately we were not in a position to be able to pay him, and patience runs out for everybody. So, that’s a process. I don’t think we in any way look negatively at him. The responsibility for payment is on the team, not on Checo. He’s been put in a difficult position. I think we have to respect his position, and not criticise it.”
In fact, Perez’s actions could actually benefit Force India. Various reports suggest that Vijay Mallya had turned down offers in recent months in the hope of receiving a better one, despite the team’s need for a serious cash injection.
Deputy team principal Bob Fernley feels that a change of ownership could propel the team up the grid. He told Autosport:
“Hopefully one of those buyers will be able to fulfil the ambitions of the team, which is to take it from where it is today, which I think is a podium opportunity team, into a podium on merit team. Interested buyers will lodge their interest with [administrator firm] FRP, and FRP will now evaluate the business case for any of the potential buyers.
“From that I’m sure there will be a process which will involve Mercedes and F1 Group to determine the most appropriate buyer for Force India. The decision now is FRP’s in terms of who is selected, but I think there are a number of quality investor groups that are willing to come in and take this team to the next level, and the team deserves it.”
In triggering legal action and putting the sale of the team in the hands of the courts, Perez may have ensured that the whole situation can move forward decisively with much less uncertainty. By the time of the next round in Belgium, the whole thing could well be sorted out.