Force India says preferential treatment for new F1 entry was fair

Force India has defended the controversial decision to allow it to immediately earn Formula 1 prize money with its 'new' entry

Force India says preferential treatment for new F1 entry was fair

It had initially been expected that, while Force India could keep its historic commercial rights income, it would have to wait for new 'Column 1' earnings for current results.

It subsequently emerged that the plan is for it to continue getting all income as before, although such a move still requires approval from other teams.

Force India has had to relinquish the points it had scored prior to its takeover and start afresh from the bottom of the table, but is already back up to ninth in the constructors' championship following its Belgian Grand Prix results.

Unanimous support on the column 1 issue has not been forthcoming yet, with Haas in particular seeking clarification on why it missed out on tens of millions of dollars of income by having to wait two years for its first such payments after its entry in 2016.

Force India team principal Otmar Szafnauer said he understood rivals' frustrations, but thinks it is correct that F1 treats his outfit differently.

"I understand why a new entrant needs to finish in the top 10 for two years in a row, to start getting column 1," he told Autosport.

"In the past when teams would enter, not really have the resources to enter and then be in for a bit and out, and in, Bernie [Ecclestone] didn't want that.

"He wanted 10 solid teams. So, Bernie thought, 'right, if you can survive for two years without money from me, then the third year when you do get money from me then there is no question that you can survive'. That is why he did it for new entrants.

"This team has been racing for [over] 25 years. It is not a new entrant. There is no question of survival going forward.

"So that bit of it doesn't really apply. Not to mention 25 years ago when it entered [originally as Jordan] it probably had to do that. So why do it twice?"

Asked whether he was concerned Force India's privileges could set a controversial precedent, Szafnauer said: "I don't think so. This has happened once in our lifetime.

"It isn't like next year the same thing can happen."

Force India owner Lawrence Stroll held several meetings with teams over the Belgian Grand Prix weekend to explain his involvement in the takeover and offer clarity on the commercial elements.

Szafnauer said the initial feedback had been "positive" given rumours of a cut-price deal had been circulating.

"A lot of teams didn't have the intimate knowledge of what happened, as you only get to know either what you learn in the pitlane or read," he said.

"So I think it was important for Lawrence to explain the process he went through and some of the costs, which were really high - exorbitant.

"Some of the teams were saying the consortium got this team really cheap, but not so.

"It was important to get the facts across, so it was not guessing and conjecture and hypothesis."

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A warning to Force India's new owners

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Series Formula 1
Teams Force India
Author Jonathan Noble
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