Sahara Force India Formula One Team were put into administration following a hearing at the High Court in London on Friday evening.
The team is allowed to carry on operations whilst a deal with a new potential owner is concluded.
Force India face tight financial situation with their driver Sergio Pérez calling the issue ‘critical’ on Thursday ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix, as the team couldn’t afford to bring new development upgrades to their car.
The Silverstone-based squad has owed money to several creditors, notably engine and gearbox supplier Mercedes, Force India’s sponsor BWT and Pérez himself. It’s understood that both parties were involved in the action leading to the team entering administration.
The administrators, Geoff Rowley and James Baker of FRP Advisory LLP, have previously been involved in F1 before, with Rowley involved with the Marussia/Manor cases.
Deputy team principal Bob Fernley, who was in London to attend the court proceedings instead of travelling to Budapest, told Motorsport.com that an administrator was appointed.
“An administrator was appointed by the court for Force India F1 this evening.” said Fermley.
The team have made no official comment regarding the situation.
Several potential buyers and investors are connected to the team over the last few months, notably Williams Martini Racing‘s Lance Stroll‘s father, Lawrence Stroll. Michael Latifi, who recently invested $200 million into McLaren F1 Team is interested as well as Force India’s development driver Nikita Mazepin‘s father.
COO of Force India Otmar Szafnauer said on Friday that the news of an new owner is immanent.
“I think it’s imminent,” he said. “I know there’s discussions going on in the background and I’m not privy to those because it’s a shareholder issue. I’m not a shareholder otherwise I would know more. It will be very soon.”
Rich Energy tweeted on Friday night on Social Media that they planned a £30-million injection to the team last minute but was rejected. The energy drinks company had an interest with the team for some time.
Force India become the third team to fall into administration in five years, with Caterham and Marussia falling at the end of 2014. Marussia however, were saved in 2015 to reform as Manor Racing and competed in 2015 and 2016, but fell back into administration at the beginning of 2017.
Main shareholder and team principal Vijay Mallya has maintained that he was never actively trying to sell the team but would consider a serious offer. However, Mallya admitted that no serious offer was put in place and wanted to wait for the appropriate offer to come.
“Whether it’s a sporting business a service business or any other business, there’s a value.” he said to Motorsport.com.
“If somebody comes up and offers you a damn good price and a very good value, you must learn to get rid of the emotion, put on a commercial hat, and look at it seriously. Because such an opportunity may not come again. I had no such proposition in front of me. I want to see cash on the table.
“Until I see cash on the table, I don’t believe anything. In 10 years in F1 there have been too many people coming and wanting to buy the team. Everyone who walks through this paddock suddenly wants to own an F1 team.
“They don’t realise the hard work involved. If it was like the old Spyker quite content to run around in 21st and 22nd with no ambition to get out of Q3, then fine. But for a team like us it’s bloody hard work for everybody.
“All I can say is Mercedes got a fat cheque two weeks ago.”