The Force India Formula One team went into administration, as expected, late Friday evening in London following a High Court hearing brought by a winding-up order. Deputy team principal Bob Fernley confirmed the action, telling reporters that an “administrator was appointed by the court for Force India this evening”.
There was no further immediate comment from the team, which, on Friday, had said it hoped to resolve its critical cash-flow difficulties with the help of new investment, while under administration. The team’s senior driver Sergio Perez on Thursday said the situation was “critical”.
The Mexican driver is reportedly owed more than $4 million while engine suppliers Mercedes are owed more than $15 million. The team’s second driver Esteban Ocon, who is under contract until the end of 2019, is expected to leave the team to join Renault for next year in a transfer that may help alleviate the problems.
Both drivers and the rest of the team are in Budapest preparing for this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix. Main shareholder and team principal Vijay Mallya is fighting extradition to India from Britain as a result of actions taken by Indian banks following the collapse of his Kingfisher Airlines.
The team’s chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer told a news conference Friday at the Hungaroring circuit that he was optimistic a solution was about to be found. “I think it’s imminent. There’s discussions going on in the background and I am not privy to those because it is a shareholder issue… But it will be very soon.”
Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll, father of Williams’ teenager driver Lance Stroll, has been linked with the team as an investor in a move that would also see his son move teams.