Confusion continues to swirl around the finances of Formula One outfit Force India finances as their chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer moved to deny reports that series owners Liberty media had helped keep the team afloat.
Szafnauer did admit to the Reuters news agency that Force India asked for money from Liberty in order to ease cash flow issues earlier in the year, but insisted the team’s Formula One rivals blocked the request.
“It’s no secret we asked for a bit of money up front [from Liberty Media] so that gets us through the winter,” Szafnauer said.
“This year, that money wasn’t forthcoming because I think some of the teams said ‘you can’t do that’ and blocked it.
“So that put a bit of a financial strain on us over the winter, if you don’t have the cashflow. But now we’re past the winter months it should be easier for us.”
According to Reuters, however, sources close to Formula One have said that Liberty has in fact been helping the team with cash flow and indicated the series’ other teams had not been involved in that process.
Adding to the puzzle, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport has claimed the recent departure of Vijay Mallya as Force India’s team director was a condition of the loan from the series owners.
Force India are still co-owned by Mallya, who cited legal difficulties as the reason behind his decision to step down from his direct role in race activity. The 62-year-old is currently fighting an extradition request from the Indian government over accusations of defrauding Indian banks and has had his passport revoked while the government seeks to force him to return from exile in the UK.
Force India’s financial issues are no secret, and the team is known to be seeking a takeover deal. Last week, Force India moved to dismiss fresh reports that a deal with Rich Energy was imminent, although the British energy drinks firm has been linked with a takeover of the team since the beginning of this year.