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Formula 1: Force India feared Caterham/Manor fate

Caterham Marussia

Force India chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer says the rescued Formula 1 team feared it would suffer the same demise as Caterham and Manor after falling into administration.

The Silverstone-based Force India team's salvation was revealed on Tuesday after its administrators agreed a deal with a consortium led by Lawrence Stroll, father of current Williams F1 driver Lance.

That means the team has been returned to solvency, with all 405 jobs saved and "significant" funding guaranteed, plus a commitment to pay its creditors in full.

When Caterham and Marussia went into administration at the end of 2014, only Marussia continued, having gained fresh investment under the Manor name. However, it was placed in administration again at the end of 2016 and then collapsed for good.

"Once we went into administration, there were a couple that have been there and didn't come out," Szafnauer told Autosport. "So, there is a lot of trepidation amongst all the team members, and a lot of anxiety, because we didn't know where it was going to go.

"It's a huge relief to know there's a future for the team. We'll be able to continue as a normal Formula 1 team."

Szafnauer played a key role in helping the administrators find the investors, with Stroll's consortium comprising Canadian entrepreneur Andre Desmarais, Jonathan Dudman of Monaco Sports and Management, fashion business leader John Idol, telecommunications investor John McCaw Jr, financial expert Michael de Picciotto, and Stroll's business partner Silas Chou.

The new owners' plan regarding senior team personnel is unknown.

Mallya

Vijay Mallya, co-owner of the team for the last 11 years, had been its official team principal, with Bob Fernley acting as his deputy.

Szafnauer said he did not know if he and Fernley would retain their positions.

"It's early days," Szafnauer said. "I would hope they would keep the senior management on. This just happened, I haven't sat down with the new owners to say 'what do you want to do?'."

Stroll has been helping bankroll Williams recently, and his son Lance made his grand prix debut with the team in 2017.

The younger Stroll is now expected to switch to Force India, which is likely to pursue a name change for 2019 now it is not under Vijay Mallya's control.

Szafnauer said that situation was currently as uncertain as the one facing the team's senior personnel.

"In the near future, we'll have all those conversations," he said. "But that's looking forwards, not looking backwards."

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