No longer is it just William Storey of Rich Energy taking racing teams to court: Dmitry Mazepin, father of 2021 Haas driver Nikita Mazepin and certified rich man, is still a bit bitter about Force India being sold to Lawrence Stroll. So, even though he tried to bring a lawsuit against Force India and failed, he’s going to keep on trying.
Let’s back it up a little bit. In July of 2018, the Force India F1 team went into administration. The team could have suffered complications as a result of the Indian government’s complaints against team owner Vijay Malya, so going into administration allowed him to effectively abdicate the team, which could allow the assets to be sold.
Plenty of folks were interested, since it’s not every day that you can scoop up a Formula One team and all its assets. Rich Energy’s William Storey reportedly made a bid, as did Dmitry Mazepin. But the team was ultimately sold to Lawrence Stroll, who developed a whole company under which to run the team. Now, we have Racing Point.
The problem is, Mazepin believes he submitted the highest bid. He used his company, Uralkali, to start legal proceedings against the company that acted as administrator for Force India’s assets on the grounds that the administrators “failed to conduct a fair and proper sales process.”
Further, he accused the administrators of “negligently misrepresented that they would select the successful bidder on the basis of the most favourable offer” and “negligently misrepresented that the bidding process would be operated on a level playing field as between all bidders,” as per Motorsport.com. In addition, Mazepin argued that Stroll was given confidential information about Uralkali’s bid, which could have allowed Stroll to place a higher bid.
The case has been dismissed by the High Court in the United Kingdom, with the judge dismissing all of Uralkali’s claims and noting that it certainly didn’t help that Mazepin didn’t show up to court.
That said, Uralkali has released a statement that he’ll be pursuing an appeal that, in parts, read, “Although Uralkali is disappointed with the decision of the trial court, it is pleased that the trial confirmed a number of its prior statements, including the fact that Uralkali’s bid for the assets of Force India F1 team was higher than the winning bid.”
The High Court has emphasized that there isn’t actually evidence that Uralkali had the higher bid.
I have to say, this is shades of Rich Energy all over again, with one company accusing another company of unfair treatment without having any foundation to the claims. The main difference seems to be the fact that Uralkali actually has money and that Mazepin is upset that another billionaire got to buy his son a team before he did.