Force India’s days are numbered (7th Update)

UPDATE Mexican Formula One driver Sergio Perez described his Force India team's financial situation as 'critical' on Thursday, and recognized that his own future remained uncertain.

"At the moment the situation is critical," Perez told reporters at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

"There’s no secret that the financial problems have held the team back quite a bit.

"When you look at the results, because Formula One is just about the results, we are fifth in the constructors’ championship and you cannot imagine the financial issues we’ve had so far. It just shows the potential this team has."

Vijay Mallya, in complete denial
Vijay Mallya, waiting for a large enough bid


UPDATE Joe Saward writes this morning There may at some point be another windtunnel built at Silverstone, as there have long been plans for Force India to build such a facility alongside the current factory. It has all been held back by lack of money but it is looking increasingly likely that the team will soon be sold as none of the owners is in a position to pay for it. Money is very tight and there are creditors baying at the doors and the danger of winding up orders if the team does not either pay or seek protection from bankruptcy.

Although Vijay Mallya gives the impression of a man suffering serious delusions, it is clear that there are a string of buyers lining up. Perhaps no-one has yet agreed the price he wants, but if he is not careful the team will end up being sold off by an administrator, as a going concern.

Among those interested are the Stroll family, which currently funds the disastrous efforts of Williams, there is Force India sponsor BWT, a water company from Austria; there is a much-trumpeted consortium including an energy drink that no-one has seen, which is supported by publishers-turned-sport entrepreneurs David Sullivan and David Gold, who own West Ham United football team.

There is another consortium from the United States, which is believed to include Mexican-American Tavo Hellmund who may or may not be involved with a New York private equity fund called Castle Harlan. There is also a bid from Andretti Autosport, which is being linked to Rockefeller Capital Management (RCM), an ambitious private equity operation, linked to a huge hedge fund. This organisation recently helped baseball player Derek Jeter purchase the Miami Marlins. This bid would likely include Alexander Rossi, as he has unfinished business in F1.

Much depends on decisions that need to be made about the budget cap in F1, which will pump value into the teams. The latest word is that a $150 million budget cap will be introduced by 2023, with budgets coming down in increments each year. This will only effect the big teams, as no-one else has such elevated budgets. There continue to be attempts to delay the introduction of new rules with the impression being that those currently involved want to slow things down so as to make it impossible for newcomers to enter F1 without being at a disadvantage. If manufacturers want to enter F1 in 2021, they need to have rules in place this year.

07/06/18 Force India owner Vijay Mallya on Friday at Silverstone rejected reports that he is set to sell his team.

Amid reports of financial issues that have hampered the team's progress and as Mallya fights extradition to India on fraud charges, he delivered a robust defense of his stewardship of the team.

The team has been linked to reported bids from British energy drinks firm Rich Energy and American IndyCar team owner Michael Andretti, but Mallya denied he had received "a credible offer."

Making his first public appearance at a Grand Prix since last year's race at Silverstone, Mallya spoke out during a news conference.

"People have been writing about the ownership of my team for years now," he told reporters. "I'm proud that we finished our 200th Grand Prix in Austria. It's a big milestone for me since I own this team.

"I am sure you will not see anybody in Force India, indeed myself, walk around with a 'for sale' sign.

"As far as all these rumors are concerned, and all the statements that keep appearing in the media, all I can say is, if there is a credible offer with cash on the table, I will be the first one to discuss with my shareholders.

"I will see what they feel and, in the unlikely event we wish to sell the team, if there's an offer that we cannot refuse, I will be the first one to announce it. Until then, speculation remains speculation.

Force India has major cash flow issues
Force India has major cash flow issues

07/02/18 (GMM) F1 could end the 2018 season with just 18 cars on the grid.

That is the claim of Brazil's Globo, reporting that Force India is on the verge of insolvency.

Although the small Silverstone based team is a competitive midfield runner, the report said if a buyer is not found by the end of July, Force India may close.

"In Austria Chase Carey had a long meeting behind closed doors with Bob Fernley," correspondent Rafael Lopes said.

The immediate issue is cash flow, but without the unanimous consent of the other teams, Liberty Media cannot forward Force India an advance on its official prize money.

Globo said three potential buyers are interested.

"One is an American with connections to Liberty Media owner John Malone. Another is a Russian and there is Andreas Weissenbacher, owner of main sponsor BWT," the report said.

In Austria, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was asked about Force India's situation.

"The financial situation is tense, but on the sporting side they are doing well and so it should be interesting for investors," he said.

Mallya denies sale
Mallya denies sale

06/20/18 This rumor is downgraded back to 'speculation' today.

(GMM) A source close to Vijay Mallya has denied the latest wave of speculation about his F1 team Force India.

Recently, the boss of British energy drink Rich Energy said it has agreed a deal "in principle" to buy the Silverstone based team.

At the same time, rumors are swirling that title sponsor BWT, Mercedes, or the Indycar team Andretti are also eyeing up Force India.

Andretti didn't deny it.

"Andretti Autosport is a diverse motor sports property and we have many discussions about opportunities within and outside of our current portfolio," a spokesperson told Sports Business Daily.

Also powering the sale rumors are claims Force India asked Liberty Media for a loan, amid news the legally-embattled Mallya stepped down as a team director.

But a source close to the former billionaire said the sale rumors are false.

"Nothing is happening — no sale or anything of Force India," the Mallya 'aide' told India's Business Standard.

"Formula one is notorious for people wanting to buy teams. I would take it with a pinch of salt."

Will the Force India cars remain pink in 2019?
Will the Force India cars remain pink in 2019?

06/10/18 (GMM) The takeover of Force India by a British energy drink company looks set to be complete within days and this rumor will then upgrade to 'fact'.

William Storey, of Rich Energy, said speculation had forced him to reveal that a deal is in the offing.

"In light of ill-informed media speculation and certain external moves to destabilize the team, I can confirm that Rich Energy made an official offer to buy Force India at the end of April," he told the Telegraph.

It is rumored that the 'external moves' may be rumors that Mercedes, in combination with Force India sponsor BWT, could also be eyeing a deal to buy the team.

Rich Energy's Storey continued: "This offer was accepted in principle, and we are close to finalizing purchase. We have deposited funds considerably in excess of the purchase price and will invest an additional eight figure amount in the team.

"We have a long term business plan that not only involves our beverage brand but two multinational corporate sponsors who are not currently in formula one," he added.

"We aim to conclude a deal as soon as practicable and the lawyers approve."

05/25/18 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today.

(GMM) A takeover of the Force India team is still in the works.

Earlier, the Silverstone based team considered a name change for 2018, amid rumors a consortium led by British energy drink Rich Energy was in talks.

But according to Euronews, the deal is still on and could be completed within weeks.

Sources said Rich Energy chief William Storey has "finalized terms with Vijay Mallya and Subrata Roy to buy the team for an undisclosed sum".

The source said: "The deal is done, only the paperwork needs to be completed. It's a big investment and it's going to shake things up a lot.

"It's taken a long time to do the deal but there's no stopping the sale now."

Force India drivers Perez and Ocon
Force India drivers Perez and Ocon

03/28/18 (GMM) Force India is in a race for mere survival, its deputy boss Bob Fernley has admitted.

Amid owner and boss Vijay Mallya's ever deepening legal troubles, his deputy Fernley has revealed he is scrambling to put together the team's 2018 budget.

"The next four weeks will decide if we will survive," Germany's Auto Bild quotes him as saying.

"I will have to raise a lot of money in a short amount of time."

Previously, Force India has been given a helping hand by getting an advance on its official F1 income.

Fernley said: "For that we always need the approval of the other teams, and this time Williams has put in the veto.

"I have a plan that could work in the next two to three weeks," he added.

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