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GP Week : Issue 165
BRIEFLY » Fans of F1 technology were left disappointed this weekend when Lotus elected not to run their hotly-anticipated version of the double-DRS system pioneered by Mercedes, and which Lotus technical director James Allison refers to as The Device. Thanks to Friday’s torrential rains, the team did not get enough data to guarantee the reliability of The Device, which will now make its racing debut in Suzuka. “[Friday’s] rain also prevented us from seeing how the ‘Device’ would perform in the expected race conditions,” Allison said. “With discretion being the better part of valour, we will conduct P3 tomorrow with a conventional aero package rather than attempting to squeeze Friday’s intended evaluation into the precious final practice session. On the plus side, we learned today that the cars are working fine, and we’re happy to end the day with no damage from running in these difficult conditions.” » F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone took advantage of the summer break to marry Brazilian girlfriend Fabiana Flosi. The wedding – Ecclestone’s third – took place at Le Lion, his private chalet in the exclusive Swiss resort town of Gstaad. It was a low-key ceremony, and conspicuous only by the absence of Tamara and Petra, Ecclestone’s daughters from his second marriage. F1 >>> NEWS The Indian Supreme Court this week ordered Sahara – part owners of the Force India Formula One team – to repay more than $3 billion to a group of their investors after the Court found that Sahara's fundraising violated Indian securities regulations. More than 22 million private individuals invested $3.18 billion with Sahara between 2008 and 2011 in lieu of depositing their money in banks. According to Reuters, the bulk of those investors came from poor and rural areas with low banking penetration, and had been inspired to invest in the brand following its high-profile involvement in Indian sport, primarily cricket. “They see Sahara on television everyday as sponsor of the cricket team and that leads them to believe that this is the best company,” a spokesman for the Investors and Consumers Guidance Cell, a consumer activist group, told Reuters this week. In addition to reimbursing their investors the full sum of their original deposits, the Supreme Court also demanded that Sahara pay 15 percent interest on the monies received. Repayments must be completed within three months, and will be overseen by a state-appointed regulator. If the sums due are not repaid in time, the Indian government will authorise the sale of Sahara’s assets until all investors have been reimbursed. According to Judge KS Radhakrishnan, who oversaw the judgment, Sahara had “no right to collect” monies as they did, “without complying with any regulatory provisions” and “without any sense of responsibility to maintain records. ... One is compelled to record that the whole affair seems to be doubtful, dubious, and questionable.” But a Sahara corporate statement issued following the hearing claimed that the company had been a victim of the Indian government’s crackdown on corruption and cronyism, and that they had been erroneously made an example of by a court that refused to accept Sahara’s investors were rural Indians. “For the past seven to eight years, we have faced the onslaught of various authorities since they concluded whimsically...that the deposits and investments we have received from the public are fictitious and bogus as they feel the money with us is ill-gotten from politicians,” the statement read. Sahara have been part-owners of Force India since October 2011, and the company’s investment has been critical to the budget of the Silverstone-based team ever since. While the full effect of the Indian court judgement on the race team has yet to be determined, it is to be assumed that belts will be tightened unless a new source of funding can be found. SAHARA FORCE INDIA IN A FINANCIAL DESERT? 8 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: