The situation seems simple.
Like many teams on the grid, Force India is in need of some money. The current global economic situation has made finding funding, and even keeping current funding, difficult for the smaller midfield teams.
Vijay Mallya’s airline, Kingfisher, has been reporting losses in the billions ever since operation commenced in 2005. With most of Force India’s funding coming from the profits of the airline, financial progress has been slow, to say the least.
Another problem the team faces is its driver lineup. While Paul di Resta is guaranteed a seat at Force India, he has yet to be officially confirmed, and the second seat is up for grabs entirely, with several candidates reportedly still within a shout of securing the seat. Force India’s reluctance to announce their drivers has many in the F1 world, including me, uncertain of their future in the sport.
Formula One is a ruthless world. When money isn’t there, it is only a very short matter of time until you aren’t there anymore either. One only needs to look at the doom of HRT as an example of how fleeting your time in the sport can be. The people at HRT were unquestionably talented, but if there is no money, that talent cannot be exploited.
Rumors started today suggesting that one Bernie Ecclestone has a plan to save the struggling Silverstone-based team. This could have some very interesting and important affects on Formula One.
One, if Bernie Ecclestone, head of Formula One Management, were to buy a formula one team, he would be able to control which drivers were to race in the car. With racing venues increasingly expanding across the globe, having drivers whose home country hosts a Formula one race will (hopefully), dramatically increase turnout at those venues. For example, India and China have some of the lowest turnout of any of the Formula one tracks over a race weekend. No one likes to see empty grandstands during an F1 race, especially Bernie Ecclestone. If Bernie owned a Formula One team, he could run drivers from the countries who’s F1 race is generaly low in Grand Prix weekend turnout, thus increasing profits. This could be a great opportunity for deserving drivers to have their chance in F1. Karun Chandhok, for example could race for a few seasons and hopefully increase F1 awareness in India. Once Formula One is thouroughly established in India, Bernie could oust him for another driver, or Karun could even move to another team.
Having the owner of FOM own an F1 team could work wonders for the global awareness of Formula One. In 2014, Russia will most likely be hosting its very first F1 race. This provides another opportunity for an FOM-owned team to get Russian awareness up and running. Having a driver like Vitaly Petrov, a near Russian hero, in the team for the inaugural Russian Grand Prix would be fabulous for the turnout over the Grand Prix weekend.
I’m not saying that these rumors are true, however there have been many rumblings of this nature for a couple of days. Regardless, if Bernie Ecclestone were to buy Force India, doors previously unopened in the commercialization of F1 would suddenly be unlocked.
I think it would be a shame if Force India were to suddenly close its doors, because the team shows a lot of promise. They have made talent, and not money, the priority when choosing its drivers. The ones they are currently looking at must have very similar talents given the time they are taking to decide who will drive for them.
I personally believe the fact that they haven’t even officially announced di Resta is a big red flag to everyone. I mean, they have absolutely no reason not to, other than their financial troubles being more serious than we all thought. One only wonders whether Nico Hulkenberg’s management saw Force India’s seemingly impending doom and worked him into his 2013 Sauber contract. It makes sense.
If the team does go belly-up, I urge Bernie to buy out the team. He has experience in running a Formula one team. While his first involvement in team ownership ended in failure, Bernie now has seemingly unlmited funds to operate a competitive outfit the second time around.
While I truely don’t want Force India to end, all things must come to a finish. If 2012 is to be Force India’s last, a whole new world of possiblilties lay in the wake.