Skip to main content

The price of success? How victory cost Force India $1.3m

March 22, 2012 -- Updated 1835 GMT (0235 HKT)
The car used by Lotus during the 2010 Formula One season is at the center of Force India's dispute with Aerolab.
The car used by Lotus during the 2010 Formula One season is at the center of Force India's dispute with Aerolab.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • An Italian design company has been ordered by a British court to pay Force India $39,500
  • Aerolab used the team's intellectual property while designing the 2010 Lotus, now Caterham
  • Force India told to pay $1.3 million in unpaid fees to wind tunnel manufacturer Aerolab
  • The marque intend to refer the incident to motorsport's global governing body

(CNN) -- Formula One is a sport where fine margins separate success and failure, with teams going to extreme lengths to squeeze fractions of a second out of their precision-engineered racing machines.

As a result, constructors jealously guard the secrets behind the design of their car. If those details were to fall into the hands of a rival team, it could dent a potential world championship charge.

With that in mind, the Force India team pursued Italian wind tunnel manufacturer Aerolab for £15 million ($23.6 million), eventually reduced to £13 million ($20 million), after claiming aspects of their 2009 car design had been replicated by a rival team.

What followed was a British High Court case involving Force India, Aerolab, and F1 marque Team Lotus -- now known as Caterham.

2012 Formula One teams and drivers

Australian Grand Prix: March 18, Melbourne<br/><br/>2012 champion: Jenson Button, McLaren Australian Grand Prix: March 18, Melbourne

2012 champion: Jenson Button, McLaren
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Formula One 2012: The circuits Formula One 2012: The circuits
The 2012 Formula One season sees the introduction of a four-hour limit for races, following last year's rain-delayed marathon in Canada. Charlie Whiting, the FIA's race director, explained the decision, telling the sport's official website: "Should four hours elapse during a future race, drivers will receive a signal telling them they have one more lap before the checkered flag." The 2012 Formula One season sees the introduction of a four-hour limit for races, following last year's rain-delayed marathon in Canada. Charlie Whiting, the FIA's race director, explained the decision, telling the sport's official website: "Should four hours elapse during a future race, drivers will receive a signal telling them they have one more lap before the checkered flag."
To the four
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
>
>>
Formula One rule changes for 2012 Formula One rule changes for 2012

Aerolab initially launched a claim against Force India, run by team principal Vijay Mallya, for unpaid funds.

The case was complicated when, shortly after their split from Force India, Aerolab signed a contract to work on Lotus' 2010 car.

A statement issued by Aerolab's legal representatives on Wednesday said the company had been ordered to pay €25,000 ($39,500) in damages after work conducted during their contract with Force India had been used on Lotus' 2010 car.

The statement read: "The Honorable Mr Justice Arnold held that Aerolab's CAD designers had misused certain of Force India's confidential information as a means of taking a 'short cut' to produce a wind tunnel model which could begin to be used for testing as soon as possible.

"He further held that a small number of the relevant wind tunnel model components had found their way as full size components into the car which Caterham F1 Team (then racing under the name of Team Lotus) had raced at the beginning of the 2010 season."

It was a victory for Force India, but an expensive one. Despite ruling Aerolab had incorrectly used intellectual property, the judge also said Force India must pay €846,230 ($1.3 million) in unpaid fees.

It was also decreed that Force India's claim of "systematic copying" by Lotus, in particular chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne, was unfounded.

Force India were unavailable for comment but a statement was issued on their official website.

It said Force India will report the case to F1's global governing body, the FIA, while continuing a criminal case against Caterham team principal Tony Fernandes, Gascoyne and Aerolab owner Jean-Claude Migeot.

"The UK High Court judgment, in respect of the illegal copying, will now be referred for the consideration of Formula One's governing body," read the statement. "The Italian criminal case against Mike Gascoyne, Tony Fernandes and Jean Claude Migeot remains ongoing."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Track the buzz of the 2014 Formula One season, race by race, with all the latest social reaction from motorsport experts.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 0958 GMT (1758 HKT)
He's paid millions to drive one of the world's fastest cars, and he's one of F1's most colorful characters, but Kimi Raikkonen loves normality.
October 12, 2014 -- Updated 1745 GMT (0145 HKT)
It took a little longer than expected but MotoGP's young star Marc Marquez wraps up his second world title in Japan.
October 9, 2014 -- Updated 1039 GMT (1839 HKT)
Rising star Daniil Kvyat made history as the home hero at F1's first Russian Grand Prix, ahead of next season's move to Red Bull.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1358 GMT (2158 HKT)
Take the fittest driver in Formula One and test him against two of the world's leading triathletes in a high-performance laboratory.
September 5, 2014 -- Updated 1604 GMT (0004 HKT)
Mercedes has the fastest two cars in Formula One this season but there is just one problem -- there can only be one world champion.
He's the best of the rest -- Daniel Ricciardo has been Formula One's surprise package in the first half of the 2014 season.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1135 GMT (1935 HKT)
Formula One is not likely to go hungry in Hungary as master chefs cater in volume for drivers, teams and VIP guests.
July 3, 2014 -- Updated 1443 GMT (2243 HKT)
It's the elephant in the room of Formula One. What's the prognosis legendary driver Michael Schumacher?
May 23, 2014 -- Updated 2310 GMT (0710 HKT)
It stimulates all five senses, creating an unparalleled experience for drivers and fans alike. Take a tour of Monaco with Mark Webber.
ADVERTISEMENT