Lotus - Force India 'spy scandal' UPDATE #2 Force India team principal Vijay Mallya has played down speculation that off-track events will affect his team’s performance.
The team is in the process of undertaking legal action against Lotus, as well as a company called Aerolab, claiming that the two copied their wind tunnel design. Furthermore Mallya is in a battle to keep designer Mark Smith, who may also leave after technical director James Key jumped ship to Sauber.
But Mallya insisted his race team were fully committed.
“We are fully focused on the task in hand, which is to score as many points as we can and to regain that fifth position in the championship,” Mallya told Autosport. “We’re not so far away from Renault and there are plenty of opportunities left to rack points up and some circuits that we should really fly on, including Montreal. Any actions we’re taking away from the track won’t affect the team’s focus on sealing our most successful season to date..
“Our technical team, despite reports, is still very much intact – Mark [Smith] will stay with us until April 2011 and we will, in due course, announce a structure that will take us to the next level of performance. I’m very comfortable with where we are as a team and where we are going. The structure and any off track events are for me to worry about, so the team can get on with doing what they do best at the track.”
06/02/10 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. Force India on Wednesday confirmed it has instigated legal action in the UK against rival F1 team Lotus. In a media statement, the Silverstone based team said the Malaysian-backed team's technical boss Mike Gascoyne and Italian wind tunnel Aerolab are also being sued.
It has been reported that Force India claims a wind tunnel model of its 2009 car left in the Aerolab facility was used as the basis for Lotus' current T127 racer.
Before working with Lotus, Briton Gascoyne also worked alongside Aerolab with Force India.
A Lotus spokesman on Tuesday said Aerolab "vigorously denies any wrongdoing and has provided Lotus Racing with a full indemnity in relation to the claim".
Force India said on Wednesday: "(The team) states these are very serious claims and therefore it would not be taking such action if it could not provide supportive evidence."
The team said a complaint has also been filed with Italian authorities.
It has been speculated that the dispute is actually about money, after Aerolab said late last year that it is pursuing Force India for "serious and persistent breaches of contract".
Force India added that "it is now for the competent courts to decide whether, indeed, this outstanding amount should be paid to Aerolab given the seriousness of these current allegations".06/01/10 (GMM) Lotus on Tuesday distanced itself from claims it is involved in a new formula one 'spy scandal'. It emerged last November that Force India was concerned a wind tunnel model of new team Lotus' 2010 car strongly resembled its own 2009 racer.
Silverstone based Force India once worked at the Aerolab facility, leaving behind a scale wind tunnel model.
Mike Gascoyne, originally with Force India, now works with Lotus, the Malaysian-backed outfit that also made use of the Aerolab facility.
Aerolab initially hit back at the reports, revealing that it was in fact pursuing Force India in the courts after "serious and persistent breaches of contract".
And Gascoyne subsequently said: "It is entirely between the wind tunnel operator and the other team."
It has emerged this week that legal action has been initiated by Force India against Aerolab, with Lotus pulled in as a co-defendant.
"These proceedings do not allege any wrong doing on the part of Lotus Racing," a spokesman for Lotus Racing said on Tuesday.
"Aerolab ... vigorously denies any wrongdoing and has provided Lotus Racing with a full indemnity in relation to the claim," he added.