Former Force India sponsors Etihad Airways and Aldar Properties have been ordered to pay millions of dollars to the Force India F1 team as compensation for backing out of sponsorship deals in 2008.
The London High Court instructed the UAE-based companies to find a combined $4.683m after being found guilty of illegally terminating deals with the team following Vijay Mallya's takeover last season. Both had signed up to sponsor the team when it was running under the Spyker banner - one of a series of names the former Jordan operation has adopted following a succession of owners in recent years - but called time on their deals, claiming that Mallya had breached the terms of the existing contract.
The nature of the sponsorship arrangement saw Etihad picking up 60 per cent of the cost, with Aldar contributing the remainder, but the former insisted that Mallya bringing his own Kingfisher airline on board as a backer contravened the terms of the deal. The Abu Dhabi national airline, which subsequently joined forces with Ferrari and recently announced a major deal with Manchester City FC, cited a conflict of interest as its reason for the termination.
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, the original three-year deal was due to provide $5m in 2007, $6m in 2008 and $9m in 2009, with bonuses in place to reward the team to the tune of $100,000 for each championship point it scored and $500,000 for each place it advanced in the overall championship.
Judge Gray awarded $2.483m for what he deemed 'wrongful termination' of the agreement, and added $500,000 and $1.3m for termination of the points and championship bonuses respectively, but admitted that the figures would have been higher if Force India had not 'mitigated its loss by finding replacement sponsors'.
Etihad and Aldar both continue to investigate the possibility of appealing against the court's decision.