Haas has lodged a protest against both Force India cars, the FIA had confirmed earlier. Representatives of Force India and Haas have been summoned to a meeting of the stewards tomorrow at around eleven am concerning a “protest by Haas F1 Team against cars 11 and 31,” according to the FIA’s official statement.
The reason for the protest has not yet been revealed. However RaceFans understands that Haas is querying whether Racing Point Force India, which had purchased the assets of Sahara Force India when the latter had gone into administration in July, qualifies as a constructor as defined by the FIA rules.
Teams must hold their intellectual property to their designs in order to qualify as the constructors, and therefore score points accordingly and receive a share of F1’s prize money pot. This suggests Haas’s protest is targeted at Force India’s share of F1’s prize money this season. The two teams have been at the issue over if Force India is eligible to receive the prize money from F1 since its re-entry into the sport when it emerged from administration back in August.
The protest may therefore have one out of two goals. One could be to deprive Force India of its share of the prize money that it has earned since it returning to F1. This lost share would be returned to the prize pot and be redistributed among the other nine teams, including Haas.
Alternatively, Haas might see this as an opportunity to gain prize money it did not receive when it entered F1 in 2016 and during its second season in 2017. As a new constructor, Haas was back then not eligible for a ‘column one’ payment potentially worth up to $60 million (£50 million) across their two seasons. However Racing Point Force India has received a column one payment since returning to F1, despite it being regarded as a new constructor.
Speaking to the media at the previous round in Brazil, Force India team principal Otmar Szafnauer said that the prize money dispute had been resolved. “I think there is a resolution already and hopefully by the end of the season it’ll just be even more solidified if that’s possible. But as far as I can see it’s resolved”, he said.
Haas says it will not comment on the matter before tomorrow’s ruling in the morning..