Bad sportsmanship or bad business? Force India couldn’t win in Paris


Yesterday was a bad day for Formula 1. In the space of 12 hours, both Caterham and Marussia appeared to bite the dust, drawing the curtain on a sorry 2014 for Formula 1.

In the case of Caterham, its demise was expected – after all, it couldn’t find a buyer. Marussia had found investment though, with its fate instead being sealed by a meeting of the F1 Strategy Group in Paris on Thursday.

The team’s plan was to race with its 2014 car this season. Although it wouldn’t have been competitive or much of a rival to the other nine teams, it would have ensured its survival. The plan was to keep it propped up and rebuild from the ground up, with 2016 hopefully bringing better fortunes.

But no. The F1 Strategy Group said that this would not be allowed: Marussia could not race with its 2014 car. Cue outcry on social media and widespread dismay in the F1 community.

The sad irony about this case is that the team that was the first to veto Marussia’s return was Force India – the very team that had threatened to boycott last November’s United States Grand Prix because of how F1 was treating the smaller fish outside of the Strategy Group. It has since become a member of the body, and its first act was to arguably do exactly what it had protested against in the past.

“During the meeting it emerged that there were compliance issues and that the application lacked substance,” Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley told Reuters on Friday, defending his decision.

“Given the lack of information, uncertain guarantees, and the speculative nature of the application, the decision was taken that it is better to focus on ensuring the continued participation of the remaining independent teams.”

The Strategy Group meeting required a unanimous decision to bring Marussia back. With Force India saying no, the rest of the teams didn’t have to say a word as it didn’t matter. Bernie Ecclestone did however tell The Independent that “there were three or four of them” who were against Marussia’s return, without mentioning any team names.

As I explained at length in this article on Thursday ahead of the meeting, by allowing Marussia back, the remaining nine teams would be spurning the opportunity to grab themselves an extra 1.1% of the prize money on offer – Marussia’s allocation – which amounts to several million.

At a time when Force India, Sauber and Lotus are all staring down the barrel of financial uncertainty, income such as that is hard to come by.

The main criticism has been that Force India’s veto was grossly unsporting and unfair. However, bear in mind that it is a business; passing up on multi-million dollar opportunities doesn’t cut it in the boardroom, particularly when your car is behind schedule and may only get four days of on-track running before the first race of the year.

Ecclestone did hint at another reason behind the decision to say no to Marussia, telling The Independent: “Maybe the other teams would have liked to use last year’s car. The trouble was that you can’t do these things for one team, you have got to do it for everybody.”

Force India is yet to launch its new 2015 car, the VJM08. We’ve only seen last year’s car with a 2015 nose in a new livery. Food for thought.

What next for Marussia? Making the grid in Melbourne for the first race of the season appears to be out of the question, considering the time constraints involved. However, written into the teams’ contract with the sport is a clause that allows them to miss three races per year. Theoretically, Marussia could wait until the Bahrain Grand Prix to make its debut and not face any great penalty.

This does need to be a very quick and costly project though. The Marussia operation is, in truth, dead as we know it. The factory has been sold off to Gene Haas, with very little of the old team remaining. There is still a heartbeat though, even if it is a weak pulse. The odds don’t look good, but it isn’t game over quite yet.

Instead of pointing the finger at Force India in this, the bigger picture must be considered. F1’s cost crisis is only worsening, and the F1 Strategy Group continues to do nothing. It is a self-interest group that has made hardly any progress in its eighteen months of life, only acting to alienate the outsiders further.

In 2012, we had 12 teams and 24 cars. In the past three years, three F1 teams have collapsed financially: Marussia, Caterham and HRT. Three more are facing uncertain futures: Force India, Sauber and Lotus. At this rate, we may just have six teams left in Formula 1.

The sport is in crisis. Change must come. Be it from Bernie Ecclestone or from the FIA, or even if the Strategy Group finally wakes up, something must change. And soon.

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Detroit: Chase Sexton narrowly leads Cooper Webb


For the fifth time in 10 rounds of the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross season, the three riders at the top of the championship standings shared a podium and while those points tell one story, the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Detroit tell a slightly different tale.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Detroit
Cooper Webb is peaking at the right time. – Feld Motor Sports

Chase Sexton has been all but perfect during the past 45 days with podium finishes in each of his heats and Triple Crown features. His only stumble during this period was a 10th-place finish in the Indianapolis Main. Last week, Sexton was perfect with wins in both his heat and the feature, although he needed a little help from an Aaron Plessinger mistake to take the top spot on the podium at the end of the night.

Cooper Webb finished fifth at Houston and was beginning to worry ever so slightly about his position in the points. Prior to the race in Tampa, he told NBC Sports that it was time to win and like Babe Ruth pointing to the outfield fence, Webb went out and captured it. Following that race, Webb has swept the podium and earned the red plate two weeks ago in Indianapolis. At Detroit, he added two more points on Eli Tomac as the season begins to wind down.

Tomac struggled with a stiff neck at Indianapolis and after a modest third-place showing in Detroit, he revealed he was still suffering a little. Webb and Sexton have been able to close the gap on Tomac in the past 45 days, but one of the main reasons he is so close in the points was a pair of wins that started the year. Seattle is going to be important for the defending champion because Tomac cannot afford to lose any more momentum with seven rounds remaining.

MORE: Chase Sexton inherits the win in Detroit

It appeared Jason Anderson was turning things around. He earned his fifth heat win at Detroit, which was also his sixth consecutive race (including features) in which he scored a top-five. A fall in the Detroit Main dropped him a lap off the pace and sent him home with a season-worst finish of ninth, causing a ripple effect in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings.

Justin Barcia was a huge part of the show last week in Detroit. He swapped positions with both Webb and Tomac in the middle stage of the race, which allowed Sexton to close the gap. Barcia finished fourth in that race to earn his third consecutive top-five. He’s been outside the top 10 only once in the first 10 rounds.

Adam Cianciarulo had a great start to the Main. He led a couple of laps before losing a lap and slipping back to eighth in the final rundown. That run was strong enough to elevate him three positions in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Detroit.

450 Rankings

Driver Percentage
1. Chase Sexton
[2 Main, 6 Heat wins]
87.00 1 0
2. Cooper Webb
[2 Main, 1 Heat win]
86.71 2 0
3. Eli Tomac
[5 Main, 6 Heat wins]
84.57 3 0
4. Jason Anderson
[5 Heat wins]
80.71 4 0
5. Ken Roczen
[1 Main, 1 Heat win]
80.50 5 0
6. Justin Barcia
[1 Heat win]
79.07 7 1
7. Aaron Plessinger 77.14 6 -1
8. Adam Cianciarulo 69.75 11 3
9. Christian Craig 68.86 10 1
10. Justin Cooper 63.90 9 -1
11. Justin Hill 58.57 15 4
12. Dean Wilson 51.50 12 0
13. Colt Nichols 51.25 13 0
14. Shane McElrath 46.86 17 3
15. Josh Hill 46.79 16 1
16. Benny Bloss 45.31 18 2
17. Jared Lesher 39.00 NA
18. Joey Savatgy 38.63 14 -4
19. Cade Clason 37.50 21 2
20. Grant Harlan 35.54 23 3

Supercross 450 Points

The NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings look at the past 90 days in the 250 class in order to have a balanced comparison between the East and West divisions and Hunter Lawrence has been all but perfect this year. At Detroit, he earned his fifth win of the season and kept alive a streak of podium finishes in six rounds. He tied his brother Jett Lawrence with 10 250 wins one week before the West riders take to the track for back-to-back races at Seattle, Washington and Glendale, Arizona.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Detroit
Nate Thrasher is settling into a comfortable role as ‘best in class’. – Feld Motor Sports

The Lawrence brothers are dominating the points in each of their respective divisions, which means the remainder of the field is battling to be best in class.

In the East, that rider is Nate Thrasher, who beat Hunter in a head-to-head matchup in their heat only to finish second in the main when the majority of points were awarded. Thrasher seems to have accepted his position in the championship standings, but that doesn’t mean he won’t keep trying for wins.

Haiden Deegan showed a lot of aggression in his heat last week. He threw a couple of block passes at his teammate Jordon Smith and set up a series of events that kept Smith from making the big show while Deegan settled into second in the preliminary. Deegan was unconcerned about how he raced his teammate and would not let a little controversy keep him from celebrating his second career podium in Detroit.

Supercross 250 Points

Jeremy Martin just keeps clicking off solid results. He won his heat last week by making a pass on Deegan and Smith while they were in the heat of their battle. Martin finished fourth in the Main, which means he continues to have only one finish worse than sixth in any of the features or mains.

Smith fell one position in the points standings, but the damage was even worse in SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Detroit. Crash damage in his heat contributed to a last-place finish in that race, for which he earned minimal points. He was not able to advance from the Last Chance Qualifier after stalling his bike in heavy traffic.

250 Rankings

Rider Power
1. Hunter Lawrence – E
[5 Main, 5 Heat wins]
90.43 1 0
2. Jett Lawrence – W
[3 Main, 3 Heat wins]
90.30 2 0
3. Nate Thrasher – E
[1 Main, 3 Heat wins]
84.00 5 2
4. Cameron McAdoo – W
[1 Heat win]
79.80 9 5
5. Haiden Deegan – E
[1 Heat win]
78.21 7 2
6. Jeremy Martin – E
[2 Heat wins]
78.00 8 2
7. Jordon Smith – E
[3 Heat Wins]
76.77 4 -3
8. Levi Kitchen – W
[1 Main]
75.30 3 -5
9. Mitchell Oldenburg – W 75.20 11 2
10. RJ Hampshire – W
[4 Heat wins]
74.50 17 7
11. Max Anstie – E 74.43 6 -5
12. Tom Vialle – E 72.07 12 0
13. Max Vohland – W 71.56 10 -3
14. Stilez Robertson – W
[1 Heat win]
69.22 14 0
15. Chris Blose – E 67.43 18 3
16. Chance Hymas – E 67.10 15 -1
17. Enzo Lopes – W 66.00 20 3
18. Michael Mosiman – E 65.80 16 -2
19. Pierce Brown – W 65.78 13 -6
20. Phil Nicoletti – W 59.25 21 1

* The NBC Power Rankings assign 100 points to a Main event winner and 90 points for each Heat and Triple Crown win, (Triple Crown wins are included with heat wins below the rider’s name). The points decrement by a percentage equal to the number of riders in the field until the last place rider in each event receives five points. The Power Ranking is the average of these percentage points over the past 45 days for the 450 class and last 90 days for 250s (because of the split nature of their season).

POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 8 AT DAYTONA: Chase Sexton unseats Eli Tomac
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 7 AT ARLINGTON: Jason Anderson narrowly trails Tomac
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 6 AT OAKLAND: Perfect night keeps Tomac first
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 5 AT TAMPA: Sexton, Cooper Webb close in
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 4 AT HOUSTON: Tomac rebounds from A2 crash, retakes lead
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 3 AT ANAHEIM 2: Consistency makes Ken Roczen king
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 2 AT SAN DIEGO: Roczen moves up, Sexton falls
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 1 AT ANAHEIM 1: Tomac, Jett Lawrence gain an early advantage