Whilst Tavo Helmund and his backers are negotiating to acquire Manor F1, Vijay Mallya is still hoping to sell Sahara Force India. Since his fall from grace as the King of Good times, the Silverstone based team has pretty much had to survive on the cash it receives from Formula One and Sponsorship. That said, Sahara’s top dog Rubrata Roy is still in jail over a year since his arrest and is currently detained due to his inability to meet the monetary terms of his bail order.
Gone are the heady days of 2012 when Mallya declared he was about to invest $50m in Force India, and build a wind tunnel. In fact the Silverstone based team now used the Toyota wind tunnel based in Cologne which Fernley credits for this season’s success. “I think chassis-wise we are a genuinely top four or five car. To take the next move into the top four requires another step, but we’ve got the assets to do it today. It’s the result of enhancing the aero programme in Germany. I think you’re seeing the results of that coming through now”.
Force India under the watch of Bob Fernley, have just secured they’re best ever finish in the F1 constructors’ race. The team’s fifth place was confirmed in Brazil, bettering three previous 6th places in the team’s seven year history. This now gives Fernley some freedom to test 2016 parts at the final event in Abu Dhabi. “Whenever you do testing in FP1 and FP2 sessions you tend to compromise the race set-up or the qualifying set-up,” the Yorkshireman explained.
The season started badly for Force India, when for cash flow reasons they failed to make the first winter test and their new 2015 chassis was impounded by creditors. Fernley went cap in hand to Ecclestone for an advance on this year’s FOM payments, arguing the collapse of Caterham had driven suppliers to request payment up front for services rendered.
Fernley has just made a similar request for development work required through the winter of 2015/16, though the outcome has not been made public. Meanwhile, the Aston Martin deal is apparently very much alive and Mallya has made the investors behind the historic British racing marque an offer which Fernley believes is a take it or leave it deal. “I don’t think we can offer a better package to Aston”, he said in Brazil. “The decision now is between their shareholders and the Force India shareholders.”
Aston Martin has been given a huge publicity boost with the release of the latest 007 film along with the action packed images featuring their new DB10 model. However, the challenge ahead for Aston Martin road car division is huge, Sales to 2014 fell from 7,300pa to around 4,000pa in under a decade and the amount the investors wish to spend on a midfield Formula One team will not be big dollars.
Mallya paid around 90 million euro’s for the defunct Spyker team in 2007 and renamed it Force India for the 2008 season. Subsequently, Sahara bought a 42.5% share in the Silverstone based outfit for around $100m and has been the title sponsor ever since.