This is an embarrassment to the Force India team!

News has emerged that the Mike Gascoyne-led Lotus team will be the new place of employment for Force India’s recently-appointed technical director, Mark Smith, who is joining chief designer Lewis Butler and its head of aerodynamics, Marianne Hinson in defecting from force India to the 1Malaysia owned team.

All three have previously worked with – you guessed it – Mike Gascoyne, who unceremoniously departed from the Force India squad in 2008, and later took up the role of leading the Lotus team’s technical operations.

Smith, Gascoyne & Key

What’s going on at Force India? Gascoyne (centre) leaves under poorly-explained circumstances; Key (right) replaces him and then jumps ship to Sauber; Smith (left) replaces Key and now follows Gascoyne to Lotus…

Gascoyne is also implicated in the Force India-Aerolab dispute over allegations that the 2010 Lotus T127 chassis is based on the 209 Force India design. Speaking about it, he cryptically said: “It’s unfortunate. We regard the legal action as old news really. We feel that situation will become eminently clear to everyone as that develops."

In discussing his headhunting the appointment of the Force India trio, Gascoyne confirmed the length of his relationship with them in an official statement announcing their being hired:

"Lewis and I were together at Force India, and Lewis also worked with Mark Smith at Red Bull, and Marianne and I have known each other since 1999 when I gave her her first job in F1 at Jordan, so we all know each other very well," said Gascoyne.

This type of defection – remember that the team’s previous technical director, James Key, jumped ship to Sauber at the beginning of the season, and its commercial manager, Ian Phillips, left in March – is a massive brain drain for the Force India squad, and a haemorrhaging of such talent (dare I say it) doesn’t usually occur without there being a few catalysts to do so…

[Original image via GP Update]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.