Gene Haas feels 'slighted' by 'preferential' Force India treatment

Nate SaundersF1 Associate Editor4 Minute Read

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SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium -- Gene Haas is frustrated by the concessions made to the rebooted Force India outfit since its takeover during the summer break.

In August, Force India was saved from administration by a consortium led by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll. On Thursday ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix a series of complications were finally resolved, although several controversial aspects remain.

The 'old' entry -- Sahara Force India -- was excluded from the championship, meaning its 59 points from the opening 12 races were erased. The 'new' entry -- Racing Point Force India -- therefore started on zero that weekend, meaning its 2018 prize money will only reflect where the new entity finishes in the championship. However crucially, and most contentiously, the team has been allowed to retain its previous 'Column 1' prize money in the championship despite that usually being reserved until a team has completed two full seasons.

The Haas team joined the grid in 2016 and, as per those same regulations, did not receive the Column 1 payments in its first two seasons. American owner Haas signed up to that regulation willingly and as a result invested a significant amount of his own money into the outfit.

Haas does not think the new Force India entry has been treated in the same way.

"I'm a little frustrated but you certainly can't blame Lawrence Stroll for putting together an awesome deal in a very very short time," Haas told ESPN. "They made a lot of decisions, and made the best decisions for himself, but we feel that as a new team that we didn't get treated the same and he seems to have gotten preferential treatment which we all think isn't fair.

"We just have to kinda really see how it all sorts out. Obviously there's a lot of disgruntled teams.

"We feel we've been slighted somewhat. I think Lawrence has done a good job, he's obviously preserved the team, preserved a lot of jobs but that still doesn't still overstep the legal rights of everybody else too. I think it needs to be sorted out, we will see how it all comes out. Obviously a lot of things happened in a very short time and I think not everybody was given their due process."

Gene Haas sees his team sit fifth in the constructors' championship, six points behind Renault.NurPhoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Haas and the boss of his F1 operation, Guenther Steiner, were seen in animated conversation with Lawrence Stroll and Force India's CEO and team principal Otmar Szafnauer on Saturday evening.

When asked if it has been difficult to oppose the concessions made to Force India given the human side of it and the desire for a team to continue racing, he said: "I don't think the jobs factor can overcome legal precedent.

"You have contracts, you have property rights, you have due process. It's important to preserve the jobs but they still don't take right over people's rights and contractual rights. I think that's where the problems are right now is that we have to sort all that out.

"My own opinion is that we feel like we were treated differently as a team then let's say Lawrence Stroll is being treated as a new team if indeed he is a new team. They seem to think they're not really a new team but from a legal standpoint it sounds like they are a new team."

A further quirk of the weekend was that the FIA confirmed Racing Point Force India would retain the same engine component usage of Sahara Force India.