Haas opts against appealing Force India decision

ABU DHABI — The Haas Formula One team has confirmed it will not appeal the stewards’ decision that dismissed its protest against rivals Force India at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Haas was protesting the legality of its rival’s cars on the basis that Force India was not a constructor under the terms laid out in the Sporting Regulations. The argument was based on Force India being classified as a new team following its rescue from administration earlier this year when it re-entered the championship under the new name Racing Point Force India.

Haas argued that because Racing Point Force India was still using a car designed and built by the previous incarnation of the team, known as Sahara Force India, it was outsourcing the construction of its car to a competitor — something which is not allowed under Article 6.3 of the Sporting Regulations. The stewards agreed that Racing Point Force India was a new team — something Haas was keen to establish in as part of its ongoing dispute over prize money (see below) — but disagreed the team was outsourcing to a competitor and dismissed the protest.

Following the decision, Haas notified the stewards of its intention to appeal, opening up a 96 hour-window for the team to assess its options, but on Wednesday confirmed it would not be going ahead with a full appeal.

“Haas has elected not to appeal the decision of the FIA Stewards (UAE Document 20 – Haas Protest Decision) following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Nov. 22-25 2018,” the team stated on Twitter.

Despite having its protest rejected, Haas still came away with a victory from the whole affair. In truth, the Abu Dhabi protest went beyond the legality of the Force India car and had its roots in a dispute over Force India’s eligibility for Column 1 prize money from Formula One.

Teams only qualify for Column 1 money, which is based on F1’s revenues and worth in the region of £24 million, if they have finished two of the previous three constructors’ championships in the top 10. Haas did not receive this money during its first two years in F1 in 2016 and 2017, and the team believes Racing Point Force India should be held to the same standard since it entered F1 as a new team at this year’s Belgian Grand Prix.

Significantly, the stewards’ decision on Saturday stated that Racing Point Force India is a “new team”, and it is that part of the decision that may be useful in Haas’ wider argument with Formula One over whether Racing Point Force India is eligible for Column 1 money.