Esteban Ocon, Force India, Interlagos, 2018

Haas lodge protest against Force India

2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Haas has lodged a protest against both Force India cars, the FIA has confirmed.

Representatives of Force India and Haas have been summed to a meeting of the stewards tomorrow at 11am concerning a “protest by Haas F1 Team against cars 11 and 31,” according to an FIA statement.

The reason for the protest has not yet been confirmed. However RaceFans understands Haas is querying whether Racing Point Force India, which purchased the assets of Sahara Force India when the latter went into administration in July, qualifies as a constructor as defined by Formula 1’s rules.

Teams must hold the intellectual property to their designs in order to qualify as constructors, and therefore score points and receive a share of F1’s prize money pot.

This suggests Haas’s protest is targeted at Force India’s share of F1’s prize money. The two teams have been at odds over Force India is eligible to receive from F1 since its re-entry into the sport when it emerged from administration in August.

The protest may therefore have one of two goals. One could be to deprive Force India of its share of the prize money it has earned since returning to F1. This lost share would return to the pot and be redistributed among the other nine teams, including Haas.

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Alternatively, Haas may be seeking to gain prize money it did not receive when it entered F1 in 2016 and during its second season in 2017. As a new constructor, Haas was not eligible for a ‘column one’ payment potentially worth up to $60 million (£50 million) across the two seasons. However Racing Point Force India has received a column one payment since returning to F1, despite being regarded as a new constructor.

Speaking to media at the previous round in Brazil, Force India team principal Otmar Szafnauer said he believed the prize money dispute had been resolved.

“I think there is a resolution already and hopefully by the end of the season it’ll just be even more solidified if that’s possible. But as far as I can see it’s resolved.”

Haas says it will not comment on the matter before tomorrow’s ruling.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...

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54 comments on “Haas lodge protest against Force India”

  1. And no further detail? Teases!

    1. So, AMuS (german) says it is about the fact the Racing Point team are using cars built by entity Force India, long ago at the start of the season, when that entity was still racing; and thus, RP didn’t actually built it’s own cars. Hm, well, at least they found an interesting legality issue there, and a potential 60 million extra to divide if they’d succeed.

      But, I’d think there would be a heavy lobby with the FIA to not let this succeed, bc. it would make saving a team from bankruptcy within a season pointless (sorry), which would be bad for the sport. Also, I can’t help but think that there is a level of envy because Haas didn’t get far with their protest surrounding that take-over so far, or with their appeal around the edges of the tea-tray. Certainly not a way to make friends in the paddock (which, with how political the sport is, one does often need).

      Anyway, father Stroll and partners can afford to sit this out, so it isn’t an immediate threat to the team, I would think.

      1. Oh, right, the 60 million is that money Haas claim they should be getting for their 1st two years, if ‘new’ team RPFI is to get money now – so this is I guess still a continuation of the question of whether RP is from a sporting point of view (and legally) it’s own thing or a reborn FI; I suppose this is right in @dieterrencken‘s alley then, right :)

      2. it is about the fact the Racing Point team are using cars built by entity Force India, long ago at the start of the season, when that entity was still racing; and thus, RP didn’t actually built it’s own cars.

        oh, the irony!

        (I know I know it’s different, still funny)

        1. Yeah, and it seems that is exactly why it hurts HAAS so much @johnmilk (although, a remote hope of a 60 million windfall might help too, I suppose)

          1. @bosyber indeed 60M is a proper motivation

          2. The 60 mil will never happen as this would have to come out of the payments that went to the other 9 teams over the last 2 + years. Digging money out of others on a retroactive basis is never going to happen.
            Haas is likely looking down the barrel of RPFI besting them (yet again) next season so if you can disrupt things now and get some $$$ out of it, there may be longer term benefits.

      3. @bosyber if that’s true, that’s a fine line isn’t it? I mean, when a team is bought at the end of a season, the car they run is usually designed and built by their previous iteration. Like the first Red Bull was basically a Jaguar and so on…

        1. I am pretty sure this particular arguement will not go far as they bought all the IP so it is theirs @fer-no65, but, and @rekibsn is right that that money isn’t going to appear out of nowhere in HAAS’ coffers either. But, I think this looks like HAAS have learned that in F1 if you make a nuisance of yourself, you tend to get something thrown at you, even if most of the examples are still from the Bernie era.

          @phylyp – well, HAAS sure seem to hope so, don’t they!? We will see I guess. Also, maybe because of it is looking like that, I would expect Liberty to fight this tooth and nail.

          1. When you buy a team and change the name you get a new license. Whether the car is designed by you or not you dont get the cash. Rpfi did….or will next year. What for? New license.

      4. @bosyber – man, have Liberty c.cked this up as well? I remember how back in August different teams signed slightly different bits of paper about RPFI’s standing, and now it has come to this. Sometimes it feels like Liberty’s enthusiasm gets ahead of their ability.

  2. sheesh. hope they have a good reason for this, otherwise one might think they’re lodging a protest out of spite.

    1. Spite? In Formula 1? Surely not…

      1. You’re right, what am I thinking, silly me.

    1. @fer-no65 – save some for me, this is going to be exciting to watch (for us on the sidelines)!

  3. What was the thing Gunther Steiner was saying some time ago about Renault protesting against them?

    1. So you blatantly compare a complete formality (even out of the team’s control) to $60M??

      1. The Renault protest was also about money, hence it almost garanteed their position on the standings. So…

      2. That “formality” compared to the formality of whose the constructor here. That one was about app. 10-12 Million (difference between P4 and P5 prize money). This one is over a hope of potentially up to 60. Not really a big difference at all then Poul

    2. @bakano

      Exactly! I’ve been saying the same thing for ages now. Steiner came up with rage filled rant about Renault protesting the illegal floor etc. Steiner goes on to say how Renault should settle these kinds of things on track rather than off track. He went on to praise how awesome Haas is, while simultaneously trying to cripple Force India with it’s payments in court.

      I don’t think I’ve ever had lesser respect for an F1 team than I do for Haas. These clowns take Ferrari’s car and get Dallara to build it. Their only job is to hire drivers and manage on-track operations. They’re pretty rubbish at hiring good drivers and even more rubbish at maximising driver performance. Their on track operations are terrible and has solely lost them P4 in the constructors. They are an outsourcing unit, yet they couldn’t get their supply chain to work efficiently enough to deliver a new floor in time for Monza. Then they do on to rant in the media about rivals beating them in courts… followed by their own petty court case against Force India.

      Rarely do I say this… but I think F1 would be better without Haas.

      1. You simply don’t get it – or wont. This has got nothing to do with Force India. It’s all about who gets to pay the bill to save Firce India. Liberty was granting special conditions to save a team and disregard a team like Haas, that has had to go the long and correct way to get into the money. I do understand Gene not being too happy to see him paying what Stroll Sr. and partner have just been given…

        1. I don’t think you get it dude. Its the petty mentality of Haas that I’m trying to highlight.

          They entered the sport as a new entrant and had to live with the rules of the time, which prevented them from getting their column 1 payment for 2 years. They were probably not happy with it, but they had to live with it. Now, Force India’s acquisition “technically” makes them a new entrant. So Haas want the same treatment to be given to Force India because of their new ownership. It’s not the same case… and no other team in the paddock decided to rule against Force India receiving it’s payments.. except for Haas.

          It’s not like Haas are losing money or a position in the championship because of Force India’s column 1 payment. They just want to cripple Force India’s access to funds over the next two years because they had to do the same (which is petty mentality). They accused Renault of looking for an advantage off the track (in the courts) to get an edge over Haas.. and now.. Haas is doing the same with Force India.

          Do you understand it now?

  4. Mark in Florida
    22nd November 2018, 15:39

    I think that it stems from the fact that Haas came into F1 under one set of rules where they received no money for two years. They feel hard done by the fact that now the FIA are allowing FI to recoup money from points earned after the asset buyout. But people want to act like RPFI is a going concern it’s not even if it looks that way. Stroll did not purchase the team, he bought the assets so therefore he should have come into F1 under the same rules as Haas. The FIA shouldn’t make up rules and exceptions as they go it only causes turmoil in the paddock. Don’t be hard on one group and be easy on another. Strolls got the money let him bite the bullet Like Haas had to.

    1. Here here. Id say let them fail. Its a toxic business model anyway. Find the money or fail. Haas should be livid.

  5. I would have thought Haas’ goal was the second you mentioned above. I would be incredibly surprised if Racing Point Force India did not purchase all of Force India’s IP when it completed the asset purchase. If they didn’t that, would be a spectacular oversight and would be one which would have the lawyers involved reaching for their professional negligence insurer’s number…

    1. @GeeMac Be prepared to be surprised then. Why is the team called Racing Point Force India and not Force India? It is because of legal financial issues between Mallya and the Indian banks and therfore Stroll was not able to purchase the company and therefore changed the offer to assets only which was accepted. Therefore they had to register a new team with the FIA and shouldn’t get any prize money for three years as a result. Force India/Mallya still own the IP rights to the 2018 car and Racing point can only change that for 2019 which means that RPFI is not a constructor and therefore is not entitled to column one prize money. The FIA also allowed RPFI to get column one payments from the time that they re-entered but Haas had to wait for for 3 years. I don’t blame Haas for complaining. I believe that Haas has a fair and legitimate complaint. We shall see. I think that this is going to get legal.

      1. Stroll et al bought the team’s assets @angie. Nowhere did it say they bought only the physical stuff, IP to a chassis is also an Asset. Can be worth more than all physical parts combined really, as @geemac would no doubt be able to spell out to us in nice legalese :-). Since owning the IP to your chassis is as important in F1, I kind of doubt that that would be something anyone racing those cars would just overlook.

        It might be that there are some potential issues. But it might just as well be that Haas is just trying to stir up trouble long enough that they strongarm Liberty in retroactively giving them a slice of the cash too.

        1. Still different racing license. New license. New team. Period. Formula 1 is competition of corporate structures and development. Its not just on track. Haas is right. They are trying to take the advantage.

          1. That’s why I said I would be surprised if it wasn’t to do with Dieter’s second point (i.e. the licence).

            The IP is an asset, I don’t doubt they own that. I’ve always had doubts about RPFI’s rights to receive payments from FOM as they are a new team.

        2. Owning the IP to the Chassi is not enougth. You have to develope it your self.

          Otherwise HAAS Would have been able to race the 2017 Ferrari and not just a Look-a-like in Melbourne.
          Again, HAAS has been under scrutiny for wich of their aero parts they actually developed themselfes.
          They even changed their approach with Ferrari to not get in trouble.
          Now you are telling me they could just have bought the design for the entire car?

          HAAS has a point here.

  6. Two can play that game.

  7. In Force India’s defense, Haas didn’t own the intellectual rights to a good majority of their car when they came into F1. If I recall correctly, their first chassis was designed by Dallara wasn’t it? Most of the parts on their car came with help from Ferrari just to get started when they started winter testing. 2017 was the first year they made almost the entire car on their own with the data they collected over the season.

    This is a slippery slope for them to call out Force India on this. Sure, new owners came in to take over the team but Force India as an organization regardless of the name owned all the rights to the cars.

    1. @docnuke Dallara still make the Haas chassis.

    2. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
      22nd November 2018, 18:21

      HAAS’s chassis (and some parts) were never designed by Dallara. They were and are, however, built by Dallara, which is allowed. Without referencing the rulebook, it’s my understanding that a prescription of parts need to be designed by the company racing.

      The core of HAAS’s complaint is that Racing Point Force India’s car was not designed by RPFI, but rather they were designed and manufactured in total by the original Force India, a completely different company, legally speaking.

    3. Wrong there @docnuke, Haas most certainly own the IP to their chassis. Dallara is their manufacturing partner.

  8. Can someone with a better understanding than mine (which wouldn’t take much) of the finer legal points of F1 clear something up for me?

    I understand Haas’ position here, and that they may have a legal case about rules being applied differently to them and RPF.

    But what I don’t get is why this is a matter for the stewards? I thought (so please correct me) that the stewards are responsible for sporting matters, and this is a commercial one?

    1. I think Haas immediate is that the car is illegal, so it should be disqualified from this weekend’s race (and maybe earlier ones as well). Having said that, I don’t see why Haas would want to do so, given they’re anyway clear of RPFI in the WCC standings and have nothing to gain.

      The tinfoil hat part of my brain wonders whether there is an element of benefiting the other Ferrari sibling (Sauber) who are just 6 points shy of RPFI, and a best of the rest showing could make that difference, more so if the pink cars are disqualified/DNS. The rational part of me says that neither Gene Haas or Steiner would agree to be Ferrari stooges in such a manner, so this line of thought doesn’t seem likely.

      1. It is about 60 million. No tin foil needed.

  9. Is the company that owns Force India a brand new company or is it the old company, just renamed?
    I thought the new lot bought the assets and then started a new company to ‘operate’ the assets. If company records show the name can be traced back to Jordan Racing (like Merc can be traced back to Tyrell) then they can get the prize money, but if it is a new company then not.
    Companies House shows Racing Point UK Ltd was incorporated 2nd August 2018.

    I think that is Haas’s point.

    1. IIRC RPFI is a newly incorporated company, and not a mere change of ownership and/or name of Force India. Thus, Haas feels aggrieved that they stand to receive the “Column 1” payments despite this fact, whereas Haas was made to forego this receipt when they entered as a newly incorporated team.

  10. Are Haas F1 cars still designed by Dallara?

    1. Haas cars were never designed by Dallara. The latter is simply a manufacturing contractor for Haas. Huge difference.

  11. They’ve found that their cheque from Rich Energy sponsorship bounced…..

    1. Nice one… I was wondering if/when this might arise… ;-)

  12. They should give them all equal money, then a % bonus for the top 3.
    Good teams will attract good sponsors. Evenly -matched budgets, cars closer, better racing, happy fans, watching adverts, happy investors. The circle of life. :-) It’ll never happen.

  13. I would still be waiting for Vijay’s lawyers to free their hands by next year and file their lawsuit assault on F1.

  14. As usual, the only “winners” are the lawyers

  15. Honestly force india should not be getting that money. But it won’t be ever ruled that way. Not only do they want to do that to force india but if they did it then from that decision it would also follow that if force india is a new entity then they have also broken the rules with car design restrictions. In other words they bought the full car from other team. Not allowed by the rules. But if they allow it then it could create a precedent. So if they allow it then they must punish force india for these rule violations. Or make an interpretation that when haas signed a contract allowing force india to re-enter as racing point they in fact meant that as a new entry as opposed to “going concern”. It will be interesting to see how they maneuver themselves out of this.

  16. If the issue is whether they own the intellectual property, tracing company history is not the issue. The only question is whether the purchase of the assests included the IP regarding the car which was a significant assest of Force India. It is hard to imagine RPFI didn’t aquire the the IP as part of the assests deal – or that the deal would have been approved in administration of RPFI had carved out the IP and not paid for it.

    Gene Haas may have a legit complaint about how he was treated when HAAS came into F1, but he’d complain even if not…the one skill he has in abundance is the ability to whine with persistence and volume.

  17. If RPFI is a new team, and it looks like it is indeed, they should not receive that money per rules.

    Like Haas did not received.

  18. The whole transaction was a mess and the FIA and FOM rushed things without considering the precedent it sets on many issues.
    HAAS can’t retroactively get payments for the first 2 years, but they can can force the denial of payments to RPForceIndia.
    Because I wonder, If I show up mid season with some old team cars, will I get express permission to race?

  19. This from a team who buy their parts off the shelf. I must say I’m not liking the way Haas go about their business. They’re a nasty, moany, little cynical outfit and I wish them absolutely no good in F1.

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