ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix stewards dismissed a protest by the Haas Formula One team on Saturday and recognised Force India as a new constructor whose cars were eligible to compete in the championship.
Haas had argued that Force India, who went into administration in July and re-emerged under new ownership in August, were in breach of the rules and the cars of Mexican Sergio Perez and Frenchman Esteban Ocon should not be allowed to race.
“The Stewards decide to dismiss the protests lodged by Haas Formula One Team against car number 11 and car number 31,” the officials concluded in a lengthy statement ahead of final practice for Sunday’s race at Yas Marina.
Haas principal Guenther Steiner told Sky Sports television that his team had filed an intent to appeal, which did not mean they would but left open the possibility once they had gone through the details.
“In the end it’s all about money,” he said of the dispute. “We don’t want more of the money, we just want that it is equal for everybody.
“We had to do two years (without prize money payments). In our opinion this is a new team and therefore we asked for this to be clarified.”
U.S.-owned Haas had to go two years without so-called “column one” money after arriving in 2016 as a new entry because the rules state payments are dictated by performance over previous seasons.
Saturday’s ruling, while clearing Force India as a legitimate constructor, also confirmed them as a new team which could lead to further argument over their rights to millions of dollars in prize money.
“In relation to the submission by the Racing Point Force India F1 Team that it is not a new team, the Stewards decide that the Racing Point Force India F1 Team is indeed a new team,” the statement said.
Haas had argued in their protest that the post-rescue Force India, who started from scratch in the championship, had not built their own racecar because they used a design from a different company and team.
They argued that was against the definition of a constructor.
Force India had countered that using listed parts from a former team did not breach the regulations and complied with the definition of outsourcing since they were not designed for any other competitor.
The stewards found in Force India’s favour on that point, ruling that their entry was valid because the governing FIA had “absolute discretion” to accept or reject an application to compete in the championship.
Writing by Alan Baldwin in London; Editing by John O'Brien and Clare Fallon