Force India boss 'surprised' by Haas protest

Otmar Szafnauer (USA) Racing Point Force India F1 Team Principal and CEO.
© XPB 

Force India team principal Otmar Szafnauer admits that he's surprised by the protest that's been lodged by the rival Haas squad.

Haas is alleging that Force India is in breach of the sporting regulations over the construction of this year's VJM11 race car.

While teams can share some components and designs, the rules require F1 constructors to "retain the exclusive right to use the Listed Parts in Formula 1 so long as it competes in Formula 1.”

The rules add that teams must not “pass on or receive any information on Listed Parts (including but not limited to data, designs or drawings) directly to or from another competitor or via an external entity or third party.”

But Haas says this requirement has been breached by the current car having been handed over to the new Racing Point Force India F1 company in its entirety from the former team that went into administration over the summer.

“After the protest was lodged it wasn’t a surprise at all," said Szafnauer on Friday. "But just before that we weren’t expecting it really.

“A bit of a surprise, but in a way it’s good that now all the information can now be presented to the stewards," he added. "In due course they will make a very informed [decision]."

Reports say that the stewards have paused the current protest after an initial hearing, while further evidence is gathered.

"The Stewards are deliberating on the matter," said a brief statement. "It is anticipated that a decision will not be handed down any earlier than just prior to Free Practice 3."

Sergio Perez (MEX) Racing Point Force India F1 VJM11.

Force India had already lost all the points it had won in the first 12 races of the 2018 season as a result of the takeover by a consortium led by billionaire businessman Lawrence Stroll.

That dropped the team to the bottom of the constructors standings. But in the eight races since then, the team has won 48 points which has put it back up to seventh place.

Force India has an outside chance of challenging McLaren for sixth this weekend, but more realistically is focussed on ensuring it is not caught and overtaken by either Sauber or Toro Rosso.

Haas itself is looking relatively secure in fifth place going into the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.

But if Force India were to be deemed not to be a valid constructor in the F1 sense, then they would lose their share of the 2018 prize money which would be shared out among the rest of the teams - including Haas.

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