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Force India part company with Ferrari

Vijay Mallya, Force IndiaForce India are now clear to conclude a technical partnership deal with McLaren-Mercedes for next year, as revealed last month, after announcing on Friday they are to end their current engine deal with Ferrari.

The Silverstone-based team have been in discussions with McLaren and Mercedes about a tie-up for 2009, with Force India chief Vijay Mallya keen to conclude a deal for an entire drive train package.

It had been hoped that matters could get concluded at last week's Brazilian Grand Prix, but it is understood final contractual matters relating to Ferrari ending their customer deal with the team early could not be sorted in time.

McLaren F1 CEO Martin Whitmarsh was seen in lengthy discussions with Mallya in the Force India offices at Interlagos - with Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone also intervening at times.

There had been speculation a press statement would be issued on Sunday morning, but in the end matters waited until today.

In a statement issued on Friday, Force India and Ferrari confirmed that they were bringing an immediate end to their partnership - paving the way for the deal with McLaren and Mercedes.

The statement said: "The Force India Formula One Team today announces that it has ended its contract with Ferrari. The agreement signed in 2007 also provided for a supply of engines in 2009, but will now terminate ahead of schedule at the request of Force India.

"Force India wishes to thank Ferrari for its much appreciated and valued support to date, which has always been carried out at the highest level; technically and professionally and within an excellent relationship."

There was no mention in the statement about the progress of the talks between Force India and McLaren, although it is understood the situation will now be sped up now that the Ferrari situation has been sorted.

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