home icon / F1 News, Reports and Results / Rival teams 'blocked Liberty cash aid' to Force India

Rival teams 'blocked Liberty cash aid' to Force India

Esteban Ocon (FRA) Sahara Force India F1 VJM11 makes a pit stop
© XPB 

Force India's chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer has revealed that its request to Liberty Media for a loan against future prize money to see the team through a financial squeeze earlier this year was blocked by their rivals.

"It's no secret we asked for a bit of money up front so that gets us through the winter," Szafnauer told Reuters while attending an event for the team’s digital partners Orange Bus.

“This year that money wasn’t forthcoming because I think some of the teams said ‘You can’t do that’, and blocked it.

"[It] put a bit of a financial strain on us over the winter," he admitted. “If you have 10 million extra in November or December, then you can build the car parts. If you don’t, you can’t.

"It makes it more difficult. And I would imagine that’s one of the reasons why some of the other teams said no."

He explained how winter testing had been compromised by the lack of spare parts

"We couldn’t push the car, you couldn’t go off, you make sure you didn’t hit anything," he said. "But now we’re past the winter months it should be easier for us."

Having taken the pain early in the season, Szafnauer predicted that the team would be stronger for it moving forward.

“The nice thing is that the 10 million advance we used to always get, that used to come off at one million every month," he pointed out. "That’s not happening now, so we’re better off."

Recent reports in Germany's Auto Motor und Sport publication suggest that "five buyers" are lined up to take over the embattled team.

Force India has already played down claims that British sports drinks company Rich Energy had been in talks to buy into the team.

“I’m sure there was an approach, because we asked Vijay [Mallya, team principal]. But he keeps playing down the level that it’s at."

Mercedes are also said to be interested in acquiring a junior squad, along the lines that Red Bull have positioned Toro Rosso. Ferrari added a de facto junior team over the winter with Alfa Romeo's increased involvement at Sauber. Maranello also has strong ties with the American Haas team.

US race team Andretti Autosport is one of the parties rumoured to have had preliminary talks, as are the team's current title sponsors, Austrian water company BWT.

“I think they [BWT] have had discussions with Vijay too, but I don’t think that’s gone anywhere,” Szafnauer said.

He added that Mallya's decision to step down from Force India's board of directors - while remaining team principal - hadn't affected operations.

“From day to day, Vijay didn’t do anything anyway. That’s not a derogatory thing, it’s a factual thing,” he said. “Stepping down as a director I see as having zero impact on how we run the team."

Mallya is currently contesting a series of legal actions in India, and has said that he and the other major shareholders in the team are open to talks from prospective buyers.

"If somebody comes along with a serious offer, and puts cash on the table, we will jointly consider it," he said earlier this year.

Gallery: The beautiful wives and girlfriends of F1 drivers

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter