22/03/2012

KC speaks while Force India argue!

Unusual headline but the two topics are completely unrelated, thankfully!

Autosport.com have had a thoroughly interesting Q&A session with Karun Chandhok about his first race in the World Endurance Championship. Read it here.

Meanwhile the main F1 news this week has been a story which began at the start of 2010.

Design company Aerolab had a partnership with Force India which was terminated in July 2009 due to unpaid fees. A few days later Lotus Racing (the green one, now called Caterham) began a partnership with Aerolab. Upto this point there were no problems.

However at the beginning of 2010 some Force India parts began to appear on the Lotus car. Naturally this angered the Force India management and the team sued Aerolab/1Malaysia Racing Team (the official company name of Lotus Racing) and Mike Gascoyne (who has been chief technical officer for both teams - currently at green Team Lotus, now Caterham). This process was done through the British courts as that's where the two teams involved are predominately based.

Fast-forwarding to yesterday, the court case was eventually settled. Unfortunately for Force India, the courts settled the dispute in favour of Aerolab and the 1Malaysia Racing Team. The judge has ordered Force India to pay their remaining upaid fees of around ₹57M (£700,000) to Aerolab. Although, ₹1.6M (£21,000) has been given to Force India to compensate for use of the teams intellectual property rights which was deemed to have been done as a short cut rather than to gain a sneaky advantage. A separate hearing will be held to determine the covering of legal costs associated with the trial.

... and they say F1 is too political!

Anyhow now Sahara Force India have asked the FIA to look into the use of its intellectual property by Team Lotus, now Caterham. We're waiting for a response from them.

Aerolab's managing director, Jean Claude Migeot stated:

"When a customer is finished their contract they have to give a notice period, so when you come down to the last day everything is clean – all the computers are wiped. The trouble is I had to throw Force India out due to non-payment, then we started working for Lotus basically the day after – we had no time to clean the computers and in this overlap a few people kept some of their studies. It's a very fine line between using your knowledge and using someone else's IP, which we don't do. We have contractors and consultants and people come to us because we have the know how and experience".

Personally i can't really get my head around this, the court admitted some Force India data was used but have not done anything to Aerolab or Team Lotus. Sure, it may not have been used with bad intention, but it was still used and they did gain an advantage on-track, surely the team deserves more compensation than the measly ₹1.6M considering how much money will have been put in by Force India for the original research and development. What a crazy World we live in!

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