|2010 Lotus T127||2009 Force India VJM02|
Well, it seems that Force India seems to think so!
Force India is seeking damages in the UK courts against the Lotus F1 team, the team’s technical director Mike Gascoyne, and the Italian wind-tunnel operator Aerolab.
According to the action it is launching, Force India claims that a wind-tunnel of its 2009 car left in the Aerolab facility was used as the basis for Lotus’ 2010 design of its T127 chassis.
Before taking up his position with Lotus, Gascoyne worked alongside Aerolab as Force India’s technical director, until he
was sacked resigned from the role in mid-2008.
Lotus and Aerolab has been quick to respond to the allegations, with Aerolab “vigorously [denying] any wrongdoing and [providing] Lotus Racing with a full indemnity in relation to the claim".
The statement issued today by Force India reads as follows:
"The Force India F1 team confirms it has instigated UK civil proceedings against 1Malaysia Racing Team SDN BHD [a Malaysian company], 1Malaysia Racing Team [UK] Limited [Lotus Racing’s parent companies], Michael Gascoyne and Aerolab SRL.
"Force India believes that Lotus Racing, via its use of Aerolab and Fondtech facilities and data, has utilised and benefited from the use of Force India F1 team’s intellectual property, including components and tyres exclusively licensed by Bridgestone to the Force India F1 team, on its wind tunnel model design for the current Lotus T127 chassis without permission from the Force India F1 team.
"Force India states these are very serious claims and therefore it would not be taking such action if it could not provide supportive evidence."
It has been rumoured that the dispute really centres over money, after Aerolab issued its own claim late last year against Force India for "serious and persistent breaches of contract" – it would appear that the team had stopped paying them.
Force India added that "it is now for the competent courts to decide whether, indeed, this outstanding amount should be paid to Aerolab given the seriousness of these current allegations".
Expect this issue to drag on for a while! I’m sure there’s a lot more to this that we don’t yet know about!
[Original images via AUTOSPORT]