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Let the Force be gone: F1's newest team makes plans

Publication: 
Bryan Edwards
chiefofficersnet

There will be some in Formula One who will miss Force India but there will others who won't. It's a name that has close to zero connection with the team and that's been the case for a while, even before the companies behind it collapsed and were rescued by, amongst others, Lawrence Stroll. This week, it was made clear: the misnomer will come off the cars at the first opportunity and Stroll's will, at least to a degree, appear on one of them.

There's rumbling discontent at HAAS F1 because they think there's a bit of a fiddle going on. Apparently there's a rule that no new team can share in points money and they argue that the current owners of Force India should not be allowed to enter because they are not constructors. That sounds complicated, and it is. So here are the dots that need to be joined up.

First, only constructors are allowed to enter teams into Formula One. A constructor is defined, broadly, as a company that makes its own cars. Wait, you cry: don't everyone use common parts. What about McLaren supplying the ECU for all teams? Well, that's a long-standing arrangement and it's a subsidiary of the McLaren group, not the McLaren F1 team itself. And what about engines? McLaren, HAAS, Sauber and others buy in lumps from Renault, Ferrari and, even, Honda which isn't a constructor but third party engines have always been a feature of F1: Cosworth and Hart, for example, have produced engines despite not being a constructor and Renault are one of the most successful engine suppliers both as a constructor and as a non-constructor.

Hang on, you say, even B. Ecclestone, Esq. described HAAS as the Ferrari B Team: don't they get huge bits of their car from Ferrari? Yes, he did and yes, they do but the generally accepted interpretation of the term "constructor" is that the entrant builds their own chassis and bodywork.

Er..., you say. HAAS don't build their chassis - they use one built by Dellara. True, and the word is that HAAS don't even design it but it's got their name on it and it's made just for them and the FIA has homologated it as a HAAS chassis and no one has made a protest.

HAAS say their case is distinguished from Force India because the new Force India because the new Force India got its chassis from a competitor. Last week, the FIA took a remarkably literal view of the word "competitor" and said that the old Force India no longer existed therefore it could not be considered to be a competitor and therefore the new Force India was entitled to use the cars they acquired as part of the rescue / takeover package.

Excellent, said HAAS. So new Force India is a new team. They must abide by the rules of new teams and one of those is that they don't share in points money for the first three years in the sport. HAAS argued that it considered itself bound by that rule and therefore new Force India should be similarly bound. It's not a stupid argument and it's supported by the fact that old Force India contested the first half of the season and gained points; new Force India, as part of the deal with the FIA to take over old Force India's entry, agreed to start the second half of the season with no points carried forward. It as, of course, garnered a decent handful of points in the second part of the season. Having failed to have new Force India kicked out on technical grounds, HAAS is continuing its objections about the money.

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