How the FIA used its own rules to save Force India

The arrival of Racing Point Force India in the middle of the F1 season is a highly unusual event, not least because it's well known that entries have to be submitted well in advance.

How the FIA used its own rules to save Force India

The process of a new team joining the world championship, last undertaken by Haas in 2016, is a highly complex one, and few F1 insiders believed that it was possible.

However, the FIA’s sporting regulations leave a little-known door open for a late entry, and Force India – with the full support of the governing body – has been able to use it.

The option is so unusual that the FIA didn’t actually have a late entry form for the team to use.

The FIA and F1 owners Liberty Media had to ensure that it followed a legally watertight process, and not just in terms of how the nine other teams would view it. It had to ensure, for example, that if a Force India was involved in a serious accident, no one could claim that the car shouldn’t be on track.

This was a highly unusual case, with no precedent, and thus it establishes one. It’s important to note, however, that it won’t become a licence for struggling teams to walk away from debts in the middle of the year and re-emerge with a new identity.

Lawrence Stroll’s original plan was to buy the team as a going concern, go through the legal process of taking it out of administration, and then arrive at Spa pretty much as if nothing had happened.

That strategy was derailed largely because of the legal situation of shareholders Vijay Mallya and the Sahara Group, and the involvement of 13 Indian banks in agreeing to what happens to their assets.

Agreement for the sale to Stroll could not be completed within the two-week deadline set by the administrator, so at the last minute it became not a share sale but an asset sale, with Stroll acquiring the cars and everything else needed to go racing through a new company, called Racing Point.

He thus had a team, but not an entry, which was still tied to the original Force India company and thus the Mallya and Sahara shareholdings. The only option was to enter as a brand new team.

The key to the success of the whole process is that the FIA was given guarantees that all the original Force India team’s creditors would be paid by new owner Stroll, that the 400 plus jobs were safe, and that there was a sound business plan, one that was not relying on future F1 prize money income.

The first step that the FIA used was an investigation into the original team under its Judicial and Disciplinary Rules, in essence because the original Sahara Force India was no longer able to compete.

In its statement, the FIA notes that “following a disciplinary investigation and prosecution by the FIA under Article 4 of the FIA’s Judicial and Disciplinary Rules, the Sahara Force India F1 Team has accepted its exclusion from the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship with immediate effect, due to its incapacity to comply with Article 8.2 of the Sporting Regulations moving forward, and forfeits all Constructors Championship points under Article 6.2.”

The specific part that Sahara Force India could not comply with was Article 8.2.f, which says that when entering the championship a team has to give “an undertaking by the applicant to participate in every Event with the number of cars and drivers entered.” Clearly that was no longer possible as the team had sold its cars and other assets.

Article 6.2 referred to by the FIA. meanwhile, is simply a basic reference to points: “The title of Formula One World Champion Constructor will be awarded to the competitor which has scored the highest number of points, results from both cars (see Article 8.6) being taken into account.”

Having cancelled Sahara Force India’s entry, excluded it from the world championship and ended its history as an active F1 team, the FIA then had to find a way for its replacement to enter at Spa under the Racing Point Force India name, with the same cars.

As reported on Wednesday night, the key in the Sporting Regulations is Article 8.1, the first part of the section that refers to “Competitors Applications.”

Initially, it spells out how entries have to be submitted by November 1st of the previous year, with the entry fee – calculated on points earned – paid by November 30th.

However, crucially, Article 8.1 then goes on to note the little known fact that late entries can be accepted: “Applications at other times will only be considered if a place is available and on payment of a late entry fee to be fixed by the FIA.”

Clearly a place was available – what the public hasn’t been told thus far is the size of that entry fee, but it is understood to be a significant sum.

The FIA says that the new team has complied not just with Article 8.1, but also with Article 8.2 – the basic requirements which apply to any entrant. And that also explains why Force India remains part of the team name, alongside Racing Point, because under the regulations it is impossible to change a chassis name in the middle of the season.

Those entry requirements are as follows:

a) Confirmation that the applicant has read and understood the Regulations and agrees, on its own behalf and on behalf of everyone associated with its participation in the Championship, to observe them.

b) The name of the team (which must include the name of the chassis).

c) The make of the competing car.

d) The make of the engine.

e) The names of the drivers. A driver may be nominated subsequent to the application upon payment of a fee fixed by the FIA.

Plus as noted earlier there’s an “undertaking by the applicant to participate in every Event with the number of cars and drivers entered.”

All of these items were easily ticked off, allowing the FIA to finally sign off the Belgian GP entry list on Thursday afternoon – the first official sign that Racing Point Force India is in business.

Force India VJM11 of Esteban Ocon

Force India VJM11 of Esteban Ocon

Photo by: Erik Junius

shares
comments
Vandoorne "100 percent confident" of short-term McLaren future

Previous article

Vandoorne "100 percent confident" of short-term McLaren future

Next article

Red Bull expects 0.15s gain from new fuel at Spa

Red Bull expects 0.15s gain from new fuel at Spa
Load comments
Can Red Bull really win anywhere now it’s toppled a Mercedes F1 stronghold? Prime

Can Red Bull really win anywhere now it’s toppled a Mercedes F1 stronghold?

OPINION: Red Bull team boss Christian Horner reckoned Max Verstappen winning the French Grand Prix – an event where Mercedes had previously been dominant – would signal “we can beat them anywhere”. Here’s how that claim stacks up looking at the rest of the 2021 season

The IndyCar feature that Paul Ricard desperately needs in F1 Prime

The IndyCar feature that Paul Ricard desperately needs in F1

The French Grand Prix offered a surprisingly interesting spectacle, despite the headache-inducing nature of the circuit. But IndyCar's Road America race offered far more in terms of action - and the increased jeopardy at the Elkhart Lake venue might be something Paul Ricard needs in future...

Formula 1
Jun 22, 2021
French Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

French Grand Prix driver ratings

The French GP was a weekend decided by tiny margins both at the front of the field, as Red Bull inflicted a comeback defeat on Mercedes, and in the battle for the minor points places. That's reflected in our driver ratings, where several drivers came close to a maximum score

Formula 1
Jun 21, 2021
How Red Bull took French GP "payback" on a day of Mercedes mistakes Prime

How Red Bull took French GP "payback" on a day of Mercedes mistakes

The French GP has been a stronghold for Mercedes since Paul Ricard's return to the calendar in 2018. But that all changed on Sunday, as a clever two-stop strategy guided Red Bull's Max Verstappen to make a race-winning pass on the penultimate lap - for once leaving Mercedes to experience the pain of late defeat it has so often inflicted on Red Bull

Formula 1
Jun 21, 2021
The Mercedes lap that puts F1 victory fight back on a knife-edge Prime

The Mercedes lap that puts F1 victory fight back on a knife-edge

Red Bull led the way after the first two practice sessions for the 2021 French Grand Prix, but only just ahead of Mercedes. There was all the usual practice skulduggery complicating the performance picture, but one aspect seen at the world champion squad gave it a ‘surprise’ lift, as it looks to leave its street-circuit struggles firmly in the past.

Formula 1
Jun 19, 2021
How Ferrari got its F1 recovery plan working Prime

How Ferrari got its F1 recovery plan working

After its worst campaign in 40 years, the famous Italian team had to bounce back in 2021 – and it appears to be delivering. Although it concedes the pole positions in Monaco and Baku paint a somewhat misleading picture of its competitiveness, the team is heading into the 2022 rules revamp on much stronger footing to go for wins again

Formula 1
Jun 18, 2021
The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness Prime

The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness

Long-awaited wins for ex-Formula 1 drivers Marcus Ericsson and Kevin Magnussen in IndyCar and IMSA last weekend gave F1 a reminder of what it is missing. But with the new rules aimed at levelling the playing field, there’s renewed optimism that more drivers can have a rewarding result when their day of days comes

Formula 1
Jun 17, 2021
The F1 figures Red Bull and Mercedes can't afford to see again Prime

The F1 figures Red Bull and Mercedes can't afford to see again

OPINION: An interloper squad got amongst the title contenders during Formula 1’s street-circuit mini-break, where Red Bull left with the points lead in both championships. But, as the campaign heads back to purpose-built venues once again, how the drivers of the two top teams compare in one crucial area will be a major factor in deciding which squad stays in or retakes the top spot

Formula 1
Jun 16, 2021