Former Force India team boss Bob Fernley has passed away

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Former Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley has passed away at the age of 70.

Fernley enjoyed a close friendship with Force India's former team owner Vijay Mallya and became the latter's trustworthy associate at the helm of the Indian businessman's F1 team that Mallya had acquired in 2007.

Along with the team's then CEO Otmar Szafnauer, Fernley guided the Silverstone-based outfit up the ranks, turning the team into a top midfield contender.

Under Fernley and Szafnauer's very efficient management, Force India finished fifth in F1's Constructors' standings in 2015 before progressing to fourth in 2016 and 2017.

Unfortunately, Mallya's legal troubles and a dwindling budget forced the team into administration during the summer of 2018, which led to Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll stepping in and acquiring the team's assets, and then relaunching the squad under its Racing Point moniker.

Fernley left the team and enjoyed a brief spell with McLaren in IndyCar, overseeing Fernando Alonso unsuccessful attempt at qualifying for the 2019 Indy 500.
In 2020, the British motorsport veteran was named Head of the FIA's single-seater commission, a role his fulfilled until early 2022.

Fernley also launched a foundation in partnership with the National Centre for Motorsport Engineering at the University of Bolton to help promote young engineers.

Szafnauer paid a heartfelt tribute to his friend and former F1 colleague.

"I was saddened to hear the news from Vijay and my sincere condolences go out to his family," said the Alpine team boss.

"When Vijay couldn't really be with the team that much because of his business and IPL interests and so on Bob always would tell us what Vijay would want in certain situations, which was very helpful.

"He allowed the rest of the organisation to focus on the job at hand of racing, getting the car better, hiring the people, and he would deal with all the politics. That was really his biggest role and his biggest contribution.

"He was still a relatively young man, and I'm shocked. Our racing community has lost a good guy."

Here at F1i, we send our thoughts and condolences to Bob's family and to friends at this sad time.

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