The stewards at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix have dismissed a protest from Haas against the Force India cars, but confirmed in the ruling that Force India is a new team.
Haas protested both cars on the grounds of Force India using a previous competitor’s car and designs, therefore not complying with the definition of a “constructor” as set out in the 2018 F1 Sporting Regulations. As such, Haas claimed the team was not eligible to enter such cars in this year’s championship.
The current Force India team was accepted as new entrant in the sport ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix after the previous team had entered administration, with Racing Point Force India purchasing the assets and being issued with a new Super License.
During a number of hearings on Friday that included legal counsel for Haas, Force India and the FIA, Force India attempted to have the protest dismissed on the basis that Haas had no grounds to lodge it with the stewards and had not done so in a timely manner, with there having been eight events since it was accepted as a constructor.
The stewards decided that Haas did have grounds for the protest — which they believe “were lodged in good faith considering that there was significant material that only came to the attention of the protesting party, in recent times” — allowing for a decision to be made by them with regards to the legality of the cars entered in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
While the stewards did not agree with the Haas claims that Force India is not a constructor having purchased the previous team’s assets — therefore dismissing the appeal — tellingly one of the decisions also disagreed with a Force India claim.
“In relation to the submission by the Racing Point Force India F1 Team that it is not a new team, the stewards decide that the Racing Point Force India F1 Team is indeed a new team,” a section of the stewards decision read. “It is a separate and different legal entity to the Sahara Force India F1 Team and it holds a different ASN Competition License issued by the MSA of Great Britain and a different FIA Super License. Therefore, it cannot be considered as the ‘same team’ as the former Force India.”
Haas has been arguing that Force India should not be entitled to the constructors’ championship payments that the former entrant would have received, given that Haas itself was not able to receive certain prize money during its early years as a new entrant itself.
With the stewards stating that Force India is a new team and not the same as the previous team, Haas now has greater ammunition with which to argue its case with Formula 1 management that Force India should not receive a previous constructor’s payments. Haas announced later Saturday that it has lodged its intention to appeal the dismissal.