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Force India Wins $4.6 Million in Suit Against Sponsors

Negative CamberCorrespondent INovember 5, 2009

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 01:  Adrian Sutil of Germany and Force India drives during the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit on November 1, 2009 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
Paul Gilham/Getty Images

Former Force India sponsors Eithad and Aldar today were ordered to pay the team $4.6 million in compensation for terminating their deals after the team made its switch from Spyker to Force India.

Do you suppose Giancarlo Fisichella is on the phone to Vijay Mallya yet?

The new-to-me Arabianbusiness.com says it has the exclusive story :

Etihad and Aldar, the title sponsors of the team, switched its sponsorship to the Ferrari team for the 2008 season citing conflict with Kingfisher, the airline owned by Force India shareholder Vijay Mallya.

The original three year deal was signed between the team and Etihad on April 16, 2007 and agreed at $5 million for 2007, $6 million for 2008 and $9 million for 2009.

[snip]

At the time, the team was called Spyker and there was no conflict. That occurred when Vijay Mallya bought a shareholding in the team the following year. Mallya was prepared to continue the agreement and not promote his airline on the cars.

However on January 27 2008, the airline terminated the deal and signed with Ferrari in a deal believed to be worth $10 million a year.

Judge Gray awarded $2.483 million for the wrongful termination of the agreement after only one year in. He awarded $500,000 for termination of the bonus for points agreement and $1.3 million for termination of the championship performance bonus agreement.

Judge Gray said the damages award would have been much higher if the team had no mitigated its loss and found replacement sponsors.

[snip]

An Etihad spokesperson said: “Both Etihad and Aldar Properties were surprised at the judgement and strongly disagree with its conclusions. We have been advised that there are strong grounds for appealing the decision and will be pressing on with an immediate appeal.”

If the decision stands, it has to be a decent boost for the team; as a comparison, during the American broadcast of the Abu Dhabi race the announcers said the difference between finishing third and fourth in the constructors championship was $5 million.

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