Just as the Force India F1 team puts one legal wrangle behind it [see story here
], another raises its ugly head, with aerodynamic experts Aerolab deciding to reveal the details of a row that has been simmering for a couple of months.
Angered by suggestions that it may have leaked design secrets from Force India's VJM02 to F1 'newcomer' Lotus, which is also using the Italian outfit's windtunnel and aero modelling facilities to prepare for its 2010 campaign, Aerolab issued a statement confirming that it had severed ties with the Silverstone-based team and would not be taking legal action for what it termed 'serious and persistent breaches of contract'.
"The three-year collaboration came to an abrupt and unhappy end in September 2009 when Aerolab, after serious and persistent breaches of contract by Force India, decided to initiate legal action against Vijay Mallya's team which was, as a result, judicially required to post a significant bond," the missive explained, "The matter is still pending and subject to review."
While not making clear exactly what the breaches had been, managing director Jean-Claude Migeot admitted that he had been shocked and saddened by what he felt was an attempt to blacken Aerolab's name, especially when, he claimed, the real problem lay elsewhere.
“It is quite unusual for us to comment on negative matters, but we have been given no other choice but to make public the facts after press reports in recent days suggested that Aerolab has passed on information to parent company Fondtech, which enjoys a close technical relationship with Lotus F1 Racing," the Frenchman was quoted as saying, "These rumours are designed only to tarnish the company's reputation and professionalism and to divert attention away from the facts. The truth is that Aerolab is suing Force India for not fulfilling its obligations.”
Over the years, Aerolab - which is based within the Fondtech complex at Sant'Agata Bolognese in Italy, has worked with the likes of Toyota, Renault, Minardi and Spyker, which of course became Force India in 2008, to provide aerodynamic expertise relevant to F1 programmes. Fondtech is now working with Lotus, which aims to be back on the grid in 2010 with cars penned by former Force India technical director Mike Gascoyne.
Photos issued by Lotus showing its wind tunnel model - designed to act as confirmation that its programme was progressing as planned - sparked curiosity when comparisons were made to this year's point-scoring VJM02, and causing some to question whether Force India's intellectual property rights had been breached.