The Force India F1 Team has been hit with a €25,000 fine – suspended for twelve months – after violating the FIA’s new statute governing, of all things, the placement of its drivers’ racing numbers.
Ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix, the FIA rubber-stamped new rules that forced the teams to more prominently display car numbers and driver names on their cars for easier identification by the fans.
Each of the field’s ten teams launched their own solutions, however it seemed that officialdom did not realise until after the race – in which rivers Sergio Pérez and Esteban Ocon scored the team’s best result of the season with fourth and fifth respectively – that Force India’s numbering was non-compliant.
Commonsense prevailed and the team was hit with a suspended fine after it proactively agreed to cooperate with the FIA in updating its number placements ahead of the next Grand Prix in Monaco.
While a number of teams elected to use the vacant real estate on their ‘shark fin’ engine cover extensions to place the numbers and TFAs (the three-letter abbreviations Formula One Management uses to help fans identify the drivers), Force India did not go down this path.
The reason for this is that the space is claimed by the team’s major new sponsor, BWT, whose arrival at the start of the 2017 season transformed the Mercedes-powered VJM10 cars into bright pink machines.
The FIA Stewards (who themselves wrote the wrong number down for Ocon’s car on their post-hearing statement to the media) agreed that there were “mitigating circumstances” that contributed to Force India’s number placement.
Image via Force India F1 Team