Are The Buzzards Circling Force India?

Force India, while a strong mid-pack team hasn't traditionally been a financially strong team.  Much of the team's finances were based on the successes of team owner Vijay Mallya, and one of the big pieces of his fortune was the low cost airline Kingfisher Air.

Things looked dim for the team in late 2012 when Kingfisher went bust, but somehow the team struggled along.   Cracks started appearing again around Austin when team principal Bob Fernley threatened to boycott the race due to concerns over F1s distribution of funds to the teams.  Ultimately no boycott happened but grumbling continued.

Force India missed last week's testing.

As we mentioned last week, Force India vetoed Manor Racing's push to start this season with a 2014.  To date the team is the only one to come forward and admit to vetoing the entry, which they insist wasn't due to financial reasons even though they'll get more money from FOM if Marrusia's 2014 prize money is forfeit.

We also got word last week that even though Force India won't let Manor run with at 2014 car - Force India will be doing just that at this week's testing.  The reason for the 2014 car - because supposedly the failure of Caterham and Marussia delayed wind tunnel testing and suppliers now want cash up front.

But money is apparently so tight at Force India, that not only aren't they running their 2015 car at the second test - but Force India will be letting Mercedes development driver Pascal Wehrlein drive the first two days of this week's test...  It's doubtful that this isn't being done without Mercedes providing Force India with some "financial consideration"

But outside of Formual 1 it appears that there are further cracks in Vijay Mallya's empire.  The State Bank of India (SBI) is reportedly about to seize Kingfisher House home to key offices of the grounded airline.  Mallya's apparently been named a "Willful Defaulter" by the United Bank of India and SBI is preparing to do the same, for being able to pay back his debts, but refusing to do so.  

Kingfisher Airlines wasn't Mallya's only business, he has a minority stake in Diageo a major beverage company, and is the Chairman of United Beverages Group (which produces Kingfisher Beer), along with three Indian football teams.  None of these groups appear to be struggling, so the money may be there to feed to Force India - if Mallya is inclined to.  Right now, he seems to be willing to let the team flounder through the pre-season.


Posted on February 18, 2015 and filed under Formula 1.