FORCE IN­DIA FORCED OUT?

F1 Racing (UK) - - INSIDER -

The fu­ture of Force In­dia has been thrown into doubt with the news that the team was put into ad­min­is­tra­tion on 27 July, af­ter Ser­gio Pérez filed pro­ceed­ings with the High Court in an at­tempt to fend off a wind­ing-up pe­ti­tion from another cred­i­tor. En­gine sup­plier Mercedes and ti­tle spon­sor BWT sup­ported him.

The team’s prob­lems arise from the le­gal and fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties of co-owner Vi­jay Mallya, who is fight­ing ex­tra­di­tion to In­dia on fraud charges, which he de­nies.

Pérez said he was asked to do this by “the team”, by which he means deputy team prin­ci­pal Bob Fern­ley and chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Ot­mar Szaf­nauer, to safe­guard its fu­ture. Mallya was re­fus­ing to sell other than at a price most in­vestors be­lieved to be un­re­al­is­tic, and putting the team into ad­min­is­tra­tion for­malises a spe­cific le­gal process and puts the team’s fu­ture in the hands of the ad­min­is­tra­tor rather than Mallya.

There are said to be a num­ber of in­ter­ested par­ties. One is Lawrence Stroll and two are Amer­i­can con­sor­tiums. One of the Amer­i­can bids in­volves Indycar team owner Michael An­dretti and Pi­eter Rossi, fa­ther of Alexan­der Rossi, who had a brief F1 ca­reer. The other is said to be led by busi­ness­man Jeff Moorad, for­mer boss of two Amer­i­can base­ball teams, and now owner of a sports in­vest­ment man­age­ment com­pany. Another main bid is said to be from Rus­sian busi­ness­man Dmitry Mazepin, fa­ther of GP3 racer Nikita Mazepin, Force In­dia’s de­vel­op­ment driver.

En­ergy drink com­pany Rich En­ergy, said to be bankrolled by West Ham own­ers David Sul­li­van and David Gold, had a bid to res­cue the team be­fore they were put into ad­min­is­tra­tion, with a spon­sor­ship deal worth £30m, re­jected by the judge on the grounds that it did not of­fer suf­fi­cient fi­nance to se­cure the vi­a­bil­ity of the team.

Ad­min­is­tra­tors FRP Ad­vi­sory say they are con­tin­u­ing to op­er­ate Force In­dia as nor­mal while they weigh up the bids. Mallya claims the hold­ing com­pany is the largest cred­i­tor, with debts of £159m. But as that is Mallya, it re­mains to be seen how FRP re­gards that.

The largest ex­ter­nal cred­i­tor is Mercedes, with in the re­gion of £10m owed. Fur­ther com­pli­ca­tions have emerged, as Re­nault, Mclaren and Wil­liams have re­fused to agree any new owner be­ing given a free right to change the team’s name, rights and prize money dues, with­out re­as­sur­ances the new en­tity will not be­come in ef­fect a Mercedes B team.

“THE LARGEST EX­TER­NAL CRED­I­TOR IS MERCEDES, WITH IN THE RE­GION OF £10M OWED

Pérez’s high court pro­ceed­ings have pushed Force In­dia into ad­min­is­tra­tion

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