After being summoned to the stewards office following the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday, Force India have been given a suspended fine for breaching new regulations regarding car numbers.
The fine of €25,000 Euros was awarded after the stewards had examined photographs of the two Force India cars of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, who finished the race in fourth send fifth respectively.
The ‘Pink Panther’ cars were not compliant with the new regulations which were brought in to better identify drivers while they are out on track.
The team were found to be in breach of technical regulation Articles 9.2 and 9.3, the former of which states that a driver’s number must be “clearly visible from the front of the car and on the driver’s crash helmet.”
As the team sported no such numbers on the front of the car, with the only identifiable numbers on the sidepods and at the top of the bulkhead, the FIA found they were in breach of Article 9.2.
However, the FIA have acknowledged there are ‘mitigating circumstances’ and have suspended the fine for a period of 12 months pending “no further infringements.”
An FIA statement read: “Having heard from the team representative and having examined a number of photographs, the stewards decide that the competitor, Sahara Force India F1 Team, is in breach of the relevant regulation (and TM/002 – 17).
“A fine of €25,000 is imposed.
“However, in view of the following mitigating circumstances, the fine is suspended for a period of 12 months pending no further infringements of this nature.
“The mitigating circumstances are;
1. The Competitor was not challenged about the numbers prior to the race
2. The numbers (size, colour and location) were not changed during the event
3. The Competitor has offered to work with the FIA and rectify the situation immediately.”
Speaking to ESPN before the FIA’s technical ruling had been put in place, Force India team COO, Otmar Szafnauer, said: “Force India is a team that […] does pretty well on track but doesn’t do so well financially from the way the [sport’s] income is distributed.
“In order to be able to compete, [we] have to maximize the income from sponsorship too.”
Force India have until the Monaco Grand Prix, in two weeks time, to comply with the rules to avoid paying the suspended fine.