Force India Deputy Team Principal Bob Fernley has placed some of the blame for the team’s delayed preparations for the 2015 season at the feet of collapsed rivals Caterham and Marussia.
At the weekend Fernley told the BBC that after sitting out 2015’s opening test in Jerez, the Silvestone outfit will also not have its new car ready for the second pre-season outing in Barcelona and that he is merely “hopeful” that the team will be at the final test, which starts three days later at the Circuit de Catalunya on February 26th.
“From the information I have today and knowing what we do, the answer is yes,” he said when asked if the team would race in Melbourne.
“The question for me is only how much of the third test we will participate in,” he added. “We won’t make the second test at all – although we are looking at taking the ’14 car there to do a little bit of driver and tyre work.
“I’m hoping we will make the start of the third test with the ’15 car, but we have to get as much of it as we can.”
And Fernley now says that part of the reason for the delays with the VJM08 can be attributed to the collapse of backmarkers Caterham and Marussia at the end of last season.
“As you know we’ve recently started working with Toyota’s wind tunnel at their facility in Cologne,” Fernley told the Press Association. “However, the Toyota people had agreements with Caterham, and quite rightly until they could resolve their Caterham issues we could not move in with our contract.
“We didn’t get the go-ahead until early December, so we were behind schedule before we had even started.
“On top of that we’ve had a few issues with suppliers because they’ve obviously been hurt very badly by the Marussia and Caterham demises,” he added. “They wanted payments up front, which hurt us cash-flow wise, and for one minute I don’t blame the suppliers at all. I would do exactly the same if my financial position had been hurt very badly. But it hasn’t helped us and has meant we’ve had a few slow downs in different areas.
“Is it perfect? No it isn’t, but will we get through? Yes, we will,” he concluded. “It is only cash flow at the end of the day. It’s not that the budget isn’t there, which is the same thing every year. Normally we can get through by working with the suppliers, but this year we couldn’t do that, so it has slowed us down a little.”
Rumours of the team being in financial difficulties have circulated for some time. As a member of F1’s Strategy Group, Force India were among the teams that last week blocked the return of Marussia to the F1 grid, though Fernley insisted that the prospect of a multi-million pound windfall in the shape of Marussia’s TV revenue was not the motivation behind the move. “£4m to the team is nice but not the driver for the decision,” said the Force India Deputy Team Principal.